Prayer & Praise from Jeff

Hello Chapel Family,

grindstaff, jeff - compressed

Jeff Grindstaff – Worship Pastor

God has done some amazing things over the past year. What an opportunity and a joy it is to worship together each week and be a part of what He is doing at The Chapel! I have been truly blessed, encouraged, and sharpened by the elders, staff, and all of you during my first year as Worship Pastor. So thank you and God bless you and yours as we enter a new year together.

I am excited and looking forward to this coming Sunday as we celebrate God’s faithfulness and commission our new lead pastor. I pray that all of you will attend and be a part of this new beginning. Let’s join together in worship this Sunday and give God praise for what He’s done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

In Him,

Jeff

Posted in In Other Words | Leave a comment

Invitation from Jerry Pollard

pollard compressed and cropped

Jerry & Peg Pollard

For the past eleven months I’ve had the privilege of working in support of The Chapel staff and elders as the “fill in” Chapel Administrator. What a blessing it’s been to work side by side with Andy, Jeremy, Jeff and Jessie and observe their love for the Lord and their dedication to their ministries and to The Chapel body. I’ve been blessed to watch the Lord work through them during this period of transition as they closed ranks and focused on providing The Chapel with a unifying flow of services.

I can attest that your staff is extremely excited to be joined by the man God has prepared to be our new Lead Pastor. Eric Coher will arrive in Cape Girardeau with his family and a truckload of family stuff on Saturday, January 2nd.  It’s important that each of us be here and be a part of the opening of this new chapter.

. . . . . . . . .

Our combined worship service on Sunday, January 3rd is our opportunity to join with and become involved in God’s plan for The Chapel’s future.  I’m asking every member of The Chapel body to commit to attending this service where we’ll celebrate God’s faithfulness and commission Eric as our Lead Pastor.

Let’s fill the worship center and lift our voices!

Let’s join God’s work!

Let’s be united!
-Jerry
Posted in In Other Words | 1 Comment

What, Me Righteous?

By: Scott Horrell

what me

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

When I was a kid, Alfred E. Neuman would grace the cover of “Mad” magazine with his freckled face and split tooth grin along with the caption “What, me worry?” He had an expression on his face that said “I am the furthest thing from worried a guy could be” or “do I look worried to you?” We as the church sometimes have the same kind of thought or expression when we start talking about being righteous. We say to ourselves, “What, me righteous? I could never be righteous. Only Jesus is righteous. Why, I’m just an unworthy little worm.” True, we are unworthy. That’s what makes God’s grace so amazing that He would assign righteousness or “right standing” with Himself through faith in the redemptive work of His worthy son Jesus to us. We may have been unworthy before we were saved but now Christ in us is worthy. Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Religion and this world system have done a pretty good job of stifling this perception through the years with phrases like, “you self-righteous little so and so” or “excuse me, Miss Holier Than Thou” or borrowing from scripture that says “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10), forgetting that that verse means we do not have a righteousness of our own, in an attempt to bring us under condemnation. A lot of those charges are well deserved by the church when we do indeed try to have a righteousness based on self-effort and lack of true humility. Humility is not putting yourself down or being self-deprecating. It is acknowledging the truth that God has spoken through His word and accepting it as that and nothing else no matter what politically-correct people try to pressure you with. True Bible humility is when we read something from scripture and take it into our hearts by faith, which means we at some point have to act on what we have read even if it may seem foolish, presumptuous, or arrogantly bold by unbelievers.

I heard the testimony of a man who was in law enforcement who pulled a driver over and upon approaching the car was shot several times ultimately losing one eye and almost his life. After years of struggle with his new circumstances of scars and fear that kept him from going back to the job he used to love, he finally gave his heart to Jesus and experienced His saving grace of forgiveness and peace. He knew that to continue in that peace he would have to obey the command in scripture to forgive, even the man who shot him. He visited this man in prison and told him how Jesus changed his life and that he forgave the man for shooting him. In time, after ministering to this man the love of God, his shooter received salvation himself. They are now good friends and each new visit to this man in prison starts with a hug. I have to admit that when I saw these two men embrace in the love of God I was tempted to think, “Are you kidding me? Just like that, this guy is his BFF (best friend forever)?” I had to catch myself and stop the old ingrained thought pattern of how foolish that thought was. Most people would say that maybe in this instance it was okay to not forgive quite so much. But the bible does not have varying degrees of forgiveness outlined anywhere that I have found. And I am very thankful that I haven’t found those instances because then I would have doubts about God’s forgiveness of my sins and how much it actually covers.   Praise God, He covers it all! So this man exercised true humility by being obedient to the Word no matter what he may have felt or what friends or family may have thought about it and was rewarded with the peace that passes all understanding and a new brother in Christ. (Phil. 4:7)

The old thought patterns are what trip us up the most to keep us from seeing ourselves as God sees us once we receive Jesus as our Lord and savior. We get saved and have a wonderful experience of love and peace and freedom in the Lord, but we are spiritual babies. Just as babies aren’t born with the knowledge of different things and have to learn day by day, so we spiritually also have to come to more knowledge of our new life in Christ day by day. The disadvantage we have as coming to the Lord when we are older is that we may have had years of “mind input” (worldly knowledge) that has to be reprogrammed with the new knowledge of the Word of God. We are no longer a blank sheet of paper as a natural baby. There are hurts, fears, anxieties, experiences, and habits that are entrenched in our makeup and even if we are not consciously holding on to them, they do not want to go quietly.

Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Later in Proverbs 8:13 God says through Solomon that the fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil. I started to wonder what true evil really was from a biblical perspective. We only seem to think of evil as a heinous horror movie character, Hitler type individual or act. When I think of evil in those terms I know I hate evil and then some! But the evil God sees is much more subtle and sometimes difficult to discern let alone root out of our lives. When God had Moses send the spies into Canaan it was said that all but two of them came back with an evil report. What? They only said “we are not able to go up against the people (of Canaan); for they are stronger than we.” No cussin’ or spittin’ or anything I can see there. No obvious “dissing” of God. Just an honest assessment of their abilities right? But what did God tell them earlier in Numbers 13:1-2? He said to Moses, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers shall you send a man, every one a leader among them.” So as far as God is concerned, it is a done deal. He said He gives it to Israel! He just wanted them to check out what they were getting and prepare for the battle they would have to undertake to get possession of the land and trust Him to give them victory just as He had delivered them out of Pharaohs’ hand. But ten faithless men come back and say essentially, ‘No, we can’t have it. We don’t know what God was thinking because these guys are giants! We are not going to do this. We’re not big enough for this!’ By contradicting God’s Word they stepped into “evil” status in their speech and attitude. They were honestly assessing their abilities, but not God’s… through them. So we can say that when we combine that episode with what God says about the Fear of the Lord, that evil is anything that is contrary to God’s Word. When you are going against God’s Word you are walking away from His knowledge, wisdom, power and life. So that tells me that adhering to God’s Word is very critical to our overall walk of humility with God which is the obedience He desires over sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22).

So, are you righteous? “Well, I don’t know. I don’t feel righteous. I don’t always act righteous,” you may say. Let’s see what God has to say about it if we truly desire to walk humbly before him and be obedient to His Word. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6. Also, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life…” John 3:36. Now in Galatians 3:6-9, the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul says, “Thus Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith.”   Okay, now go to 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Based on these scriptures let’s start putting some things together. Do you believe Jesus is God’s only Son sent to redeem the world from sin? If you answer yes then go to the next step. Does it make sense that if by believing God, Abraham had righteousness credited to him or God called him righteous because he simply believed and acted on what he told him? If it does make sense to you then you can know that because you believe God’s written word that when He says “by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God-not because of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9) righteousness has been credited to you by your believing and receiving what you just read. God said that men of faith would be the sons of Abraham or would be like him as God saw him, not looking on the outward appearance but at his heart of faith. You see, God is looking for faith on the earth (2 Chron. 16:9), it is what pleases him (Heb 11:6) and moves Him to work in our lives. We see this in our natural lives in parent /child relationships. If your child listens to you and believes what you tell them and are obedient correspondingly, then you want to bless that child. No, you would really like to spoil that child! But when there is mistrust, doubt or outright rebellion in that child toward the parent, after a while that parent can’t wait to be free of that child and leave them to their own devices even though they love them.

You may say, “I have never done anything righteous. I’m a slug. I’ve done nothing but hurt people, including myself.” Well let’s ask this question, did Jesus ever sin? No. So how was He made to be sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God? (2 Cor. 5:21) Honestly I cannot articulate the details of that transaction in natural terms. It is by God’s grace that we are saved and made righteous by faith in the same way that He put all the sin of the world on Jesus, the one man who did not deserve it, and put us in righteous status, the ones who definitely did not deserve that either (see Romans ch.5). Why would God do that?!   The only answer I have is Love. (John 3:16)

“If I am righteous then why do I still have troubles?”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”   Being righteous by faith and redeemed from the curse of the law according to Gal. 3:13-14 does not mean that you are automatically free from trouble. Jesus said that in the world we would have trouble but that we were to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Now the primary trouble I believe he was alluding to was the suffering and trouble that comes from being a follower of Christ and the persecution that goes with being conformed to His image through obedience to the Word (“If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” John 15:18-21). We still have to be of good cheer by faith. When you encounter troubles or tribulation, does cheerfulness or joy seem to automatically ooze from every pore of your being to repel all the negative and fearful thoughts you encounter in those situations? Not usually. The response of cheerfulness and joy is an act of your will by faith in what Jesus said. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus say to “feel” anything. When God told Abraham to move to another land Abraham did not wait until he “felt” like moving. God said, Abraham heard… and did. That is faith in a nutshell, and righteousness is assigned to the one who responds as such. If any of those three parts of the equation are missing; God speaking, man hearing, man having corresponding action; then faith and righteousness is dead. When you heard the Good News of what Jesus Christ had done for you on the Cross as an atoning sacrifice for your sins, then you responded in faith by believing what you just heard by making a confession (with your mouth) of the acceptance of that work on the Cross (action) and now you have been deemed righteous by faith in the work of Jesus and not on your own efforts. (See Romans 10:5-17)  Some disciples asked Jesus in John 6:28 “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus said in verse 29 “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” He was righteous and perfectly sinless before the Cross and then all the sin and unrighteousness of the world was placed on Him so that we might receive the tradeoff of His righteousness. Seems like a bad deal for Jesus, huh? No worries though as we look to ‘Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Hebrews 12:2) So if you did nothing to deserve or earn this righteousness then you can be confident that you can do nothing to lose this positional standing with the Father. You are going to miss it once in a while. A Greek translation of sin could be said to “miss the mark”.   This would be the mark of God’s standard which is righteousness and along with it holiness. You may ignore or lightly esteem this righteousness standing but the fact that this is the way God now sees you and desires to interact with you does not change. It is kind of like Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan. King David had a covenant with Jonathan and after Jonathan and his father, King Saul, were killed his family fled and five year old Mephibosheth fell and was injured thus being a cripple for the rest of his life. Years later, David was inquiring if there was anyone left of Jonathan’s house that he might show kindness to for Jonathan’s sake and someone said yes, his son Mephibosheth was still alive and just barely getting by. So David sent for him and brought him to stay with him and eat at his table. Now Mephibosheth came in fear like a dog with his face to the ground submitting to what he thought would be a life of servitude to David. But David had something better in mind. He wanted to show kindness in remembrance of Jonathan and take Mephibosheth in as if he were his own son. You see, Mephibosheth had it made his whole life and didn’t know it. His father had a covenant with the King which assigned to him favor as being the heir. Someone just had to go out and get him and tell him the good news so that he could live in his right standing with the King. Does this sound familiar?!

So why should we care about being righteous? I mean, can’t God just save us and stamp our ticket to Heaven, stuff it away somewhere we can find it for when this life is through, and get on with living here and now? Paul says something sobering in First Corinthians 6:9-12. He says by inspiration from God, “Do you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Let’s say you come to a faith in Christ Jesus and you are “saved” and according to scripture you now belong to God and have eternal life. If you were once one of these kinds of people, which we all were at some point, then after you “have your ticket stamped,” so to speak, how will anyone know or even care if you still act like you once were? This doesn’t mean that you may not struggle with your old self and habits. Sometimes God supernaturally removes that stronghold you had in your life immediately and sometimes it is a process of putting it away for good. Remember 2 Corinthians 5-17 that says that if anyone is in Christ then he/she is a new creation, the old has passed and the new has come? Well, now Gods righteousness through His Spirit has access to your inner life to bring about the change in the outward person. (see Eph. 3:15-21) Change is the key word there.

Repentance is about change, going 180 degrees in a different direction. That’s why I see Romans 12:1-2 (at top of first page) as a repentance scripture.

Who would want anything to do with serving God if they just stayed in the same miserable state they were in before like being a drunkard for example?   A person seeks God for deliverance from alcohol because deep down they know there is something better.   Oddly enough that is why they are a drunkard, because they know that when they drink they feel better and the pain is gone for a time. It takes more and more to dull the pain but they are not thinking far enough ahead to count the costs of the bad results that come later or they don’t care because it feels better right now and that’s all that counts. They are trying to fill a void that only God can fill. They may not know what it looks like, really feels like, or how it comes about but they know something is not “right”. And of course God does not list these types of people and activities just to put up a roadblock to admittance into His Heaven, does He? We can’t have this riff raff in Heaven with us now can we! No, that’s not the issue. The first issue is that He has said that He is God and we are to have no other gods before Him. (See 10 commandments) All the things listed there in the Ten Commandments are attempts to usurp God’s authority and displace Him from His position and put our trust in other things to “meet the need.” He intends to be our provider, and all those things listed as unrighteous challenge God’s provision for our life. Perhaps you don’t think God is going to meet your needs according to His riches in glory, so you steal to meet the need. Perhaps you don’t think he will bring Mr. or Ms. Right to your front door, so you covet or get into sexual immorality, and on and on. It is that He knows that these are the things that keep us from His best. They are things that ultimately destroy us and separate us from Him. He loves us and desires that no one should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 9) or change according to 2 Cor. 5:17.

While the Bible to some is a collection of dos and don’ts, there is a reason for those commands and exhortations. It is so you can “live a life worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10) and “glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). From the time we are born we live our lives for ourselves. We are inwardly focused on those things which benefit us alone. Among a child’s first words is “mine.”   But God did not create us so that we could just go off on our own to do our own thing and experience life without Him. We forget that He is the Creator. He made us, not the other way around. And not just so he could have a play thing to take down from the shelf once in a while when He was in the mood. At the beginning, God hung out with Adam. He enjoyed His creation and gave Adam a free will to reciprocate which the angels did not have. We were created in His image because he wanted to commune on His own level and not that of simply a master and his pet. Remember Jesus saying that “it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master” (Matt 10:25). Adam was righteous, or right with God, in the beginning because when God said something Adam believed and acted accordingly, and the fellowship was unbroken and filled with good things. It was as natural to him as breathing. Adam had no lack, no problems, no sickness, no lower back pain, no disease, no relational troubles, no worry or anxiety about the future as far as we know. It was a prosperous life, and he had it made. Then came the disobedience. Someone else came in with a word that contradicted what God said. Just a slight twist in it. It seemed plausible, this “other word.” Now Adam believed something else that was told him and he acted on it and connected himself from then on to unrighteousness and its fruit. (See Gen. ch. 3) There was one thing God told him that he did not believe, and we know Adam did not believe God, but instead believed this other voice, because of his actions. You see, if you want to know what a person really believes watch their actions, and don’t merely listen to what they say. That is where the rubber meets the road. When we hear from God and don’t do what He has told us, we can know that righteousness has been ignored and disregarded, and we step into a place where God is not obligated to help us. You say the word obligated does not apply to God? It is His idea not mine. Though He is the sovereign God, he has bound Himself by His Word (Isa. 55:10-11). If His Word says, for example from Proverbs 11:8 that ‘the righteous is delivered from trouble,’ then that tells me that as we live in righteousness and are positionally righteous through faith in His son Jesus Christ that we can have confidence in His Word to be performed in our lives because He is not a man that He would lie. (Num. 23:19, Heb. 6:18) So God being righteous demands that we interact with Him in the same way. It makes perfect sense even in the natural. Try typing a command into a computer that has not been programmed for that command, and you will go nowhere. When you go out of the compatible boundaries of that operating system then nothing gets done and guess what, you get very frustrated because “this blankety blank computer won’t do what I want it to!” God is programmed for righteousness so to speak. It is His makeup, His MO, His way of doing things. We are not “commanding” God when we speak His word in faith. We are just bringing to bear what He has already said and believing that He will be good to perform His word. (See Nehemiah 9:7, 8) We will not have a relationship if we do not operate in the same righteousness. Thank God we did not have to do this on our own, because it could never be achieved by sinful man. It took a Savior. Someone who was qualified to offer a payment to a just God who would have to be satisfied in one way. One who was sinless, with sinless blood that was holy and acceptable to God to pay the final price for all men to be free from the wages of sin and death. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God , they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.” Rom. 3:21-26

Now as you become more “righteous conscious,” what does your everyday life look like? Well, we as always should return to scripture to see what God has to say on the subject. As you read the Bible, pay attention to any reference to “the righteous,” “the just,” “the upright,” and any other description that indicates a believer who has been made “right” with God through faith. When you see the word righteous in scripture, stop and meditate on that for a moment, and if you have been saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus then you can know without a shadow of a doubt that it is now referring to you. Remember, this is not a righteousness of your own. It is the positional standing you now have with the Father. It is sonship. (Rom. 8:14-17) If you were raised in a home where you were loved and cared for by good parents, then you confidently referred to yourself as a son or daughter of those parents. If you messed up occasionally and had a heart to receive correction then you knew that your parents did not cease to call or consider you as their son or daughter. Your status or position did not change. This does not mean that healing in the relationship does not have to occur. On the contrary. This confidence in position starts and promotes the restoration of the relationship. Let’s look at Hebrews 10:35-39 “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. ‘For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls.” Let’s also consider Romans 5:17 which says, “If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

As you read these scripture references consider one more if you have any doubt whether or not this “reckoning” of righteousness applies to you. “But the words, ‘it was reckoned to him,’ were not for his (Abrahams) sake alone, but for ours also (emphasis mine). It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Rom. 4:23-25.

So, as a believer in Christ Jesus are you righteous? You better know it!

Posted in In Other Words | Leave a comment

Giving Thanks

By: Jessie Yount

heart-291104_1920

I love Paul’s letters to the churches in the New Testament. I love the picture we have of his heart. Did you know that in almost every letter, Paul specifically tells the recipients that he is praying for them and/or thanking God for them. (See the first chapters of Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Thessalonians 1 & 2, 2 Timothy, and Philemon)

I think we can easily overlook the significance of that.

Take a moment to really let that come to life.

What if you received a handwritten letter in the mail from a dear friend that said, “Hey, I prayed for you today. I pray for you each time I drive by your office. And I thank God for you and for His work in you.”?

How would that make you feel? Would it change your outlook on the day?

Look at what Paul writes to Timothy:

“I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.  I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Tim 1:3-5)

Paul is so specific in his letters. Don’t overlook his sincerity.

  • He tells Timothy when he prays for him – night and day; constantly.
  • He tells Timothy he misses him and that he will be so happy to see him again.
  • He encourages Timothy in his faith, mentioning his mom and grandma as passing their faith down to him.

What a great, uplifting friend!

In just a few weeks, we will come together as families to celebrate Thanksgiving. If we can put aside the pilgrims and the turkeys, this is a great opportunity to be thankful. Some on social media have begun preparations for this day of gratitude by stating something they are thankful for each day in November. I think this is fantastic. It floods our newsfeed and tweets with appreciative thoughts.

But let’s take Paul’s lead and go further.

Write a letter – even if it’s just a postcard or an email – to a friend that is dear to you. But before you drop it in the mail or hit send, pray for him or her. Pray like Paul does. Be specific, be diligent, and then tell the person you are praying for. Invite them out for lunch or coffee and pray with them. Call them the morning of their doctor’s appointment or test and tell them you are praying for them. Praying. A past prayer that is still happening.

Who are you thanking God for? Who is your Timothy?

Be Paul to that person. Lift them up in prayer to our Father who hears us (1 John 5:14-15).

And let our thanksgiving overflow to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:15).

Posted in In Other Words | Leave a comment

Now What?

By: Jessie Yount

“Now what?”

My nine-year-old’s two favorite words of late. It sounds innocent enough. It sounds like curiosity. He’s a kid; aren’t they all curious? In a world dictated by adults, perhaps he merely wants information.

“What time is it?” “What’s for dinner?” “Where are we going?” “Do I have to take a shower today?” “When do we have to go to bed?”
But this simple question is more than just a request to be informed. “Now what” comes out just seconds after finishing a meal or a game or a task. The question would be better rephrased as a statement, almost a demand.

“Give me something to do.”

“Entertain me.”

How did we get here? How can a child be so frequently bored?

A part of me begs to blame it on oversaturation: too many toys, too much technology, too many organized activities. Time to bring out the ol’ “When I was your age, we didn’t have [insert name of trendiest new device here].”

But the other part of me must acknowledge that my kids are often content without those things. They can spend half a day climbing a tree and playing sword fights with dead branches. They enjoy gardening. They love to crawl around in the creek at the park. They wrestle and giggle and play with each other for hours, all things kids have been able to enjoy for generations without cords and without cost.

So, what’s to blame? Who’s to blame?

Is it society? Is it me?

I am a recovering Martha. Well, at least, I am an admitted Martha. I tend to be “worried and upset about many things.” (Luke 10: 38-42) For instance, when I know we are expecting company, I go into stealth cleaning mode and frantically ask myself if I’ve missed anything. What if they open the fridge? I’d better clean out the drawers and wipe down the shelves.

The same goes for preparing meals. Did I make enough spaghetti? What if I don’t have the kind of soda they like to drink? I’d better make another trip to the grocery store.

In my worries and busy-ness, am I modeling to my children a constant need to be doing something? Am I demonstrating now what moments to my kids?

Okay, so I haven’t spoken the words out loud, but that doesn’t declare me innocent. What do my now what moments look like?

Well, the first to pop into my mind is as recent as last week. My family met me after work and we headed to a buffet-style restaurant for dinner. Plate one was delicious and satisfying, but this is a buffet. Plate two beckons. What next? And after plate two (or three…they’re small plates) comes dessert. So many options. Now what?

The next moment that comes to mind is harder to admit. A few years back I committed to a bible-reading plan – the kind that gives you several different books to read from each day with the goal of reading through the entire bible in a year. It was great for me. Having those little boxes to check each day helped me measure both my progress and my dedication.

I made it through all twelve months (sometimes playing catch up as I was not always so committed) and expanded my knowledge of scripture. But when I checked off the last box, I thought “Now what?” I really did. And so a few months later, I decided to simply start over.

And here’s where the real problem is exposed.

I’m in a hurry. I’m stuck in a cycle of doing. I can’t be still.

When I finish something, a plate of food, a chore, a book (HIS book), do I pray about, or even think about, what to do next?

A second or third trip to the buffet probably won’t matter in eternity. Spending the extra time to clean the baseboards will likely go unnoticed by each of the other seven billion persons on the planet. My understanding of why animals that chewed the cud but didn’t have a split hoof were off-limits to the Israelites will not likely surface when I am called to account.

But I think it will matter whether or not my heart desires to understand His Word more clearly. I think it will matter how I read scripture. John J. Hughes wrote, “Studying the Bible with Jesus is life-changing. Studying the Bible without him is an exercise in intellectual pride.”

Whatever we do is to be to God’s glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Do I allow God’s word to penetrate my soul and my spirit? (Hebrews 4:12) If I am convicted by a passage of scripture or by a study, do I allow myself the time to be changed by it? Or do I simply turn the page, close the book, and ask, “now what”?

I don’t feel like my nine-year-old honors his parents when he says, “now what”. But I don’t honor our Father by thinking it either.

So let’s change the question. Let’s stop asking now what to others. Let’s ask ourselves. Now,…what can I do that will glorify my Father?

Posted in In Other Words | Leave a comment

Squirrel Tales and Hospitality Issues –

By: Judith Hargett

I’ll have to write fast. I am hostess for some unwelcome guests. They showed up uninvited and are expecting food and lodging. They can’t be left unattended for long. Their very presence puts me at odds with good humor. Yes, I know. I sound like the Scrooge of the hostess world. We are quite clearly directed to be hospitable by the Apostle Peter: “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”
(I Peter 4:9). Still, the quicker these free loaders are gone, the happier I’ll be.

Oh. Now there’s a funny sight. A glance out the window reveals a squirrel versus bird battle playing out in the front yard. Mockingbird has chased squirrel across the driveway where it has sprinted up a tree. Bluebird considered this an invasion of his territory and has chased squirrel back down the tree. Mockingbird is waiting and back up the tree squirrel goes. Eventually squirrel figures out his plan is not working and makes a dash across the yard with the mockingbird in hot pursuit. I almost feel sorry for squirrel, then I remember the sunflowers.

I had been patiently watching our sunflowers grow from seedlings to tall, strapping plants. They were on target to be in full bloom by the 4th of July. The flowers were close to the spot where we hang our flag, and they make a very pretty picture with the flag waving in the breeze behind them. I looked out the window recently and saw the flowers bent over, as if they’d eaten something disagreeable. Further inspection revealed they were broken, their sunny little faces already losing their golden halo of petals. There was little doubt who the culprits were. It was common practice for the squirrels to leap down from the bird feeder in that area, with no regard for where they landed.

The flower bed where the sunflowers live seems to be an attractive nuisance to the animal populace. It’s our fault. We have three birdfeeders in it. An occasional raccoon will stop in for a snack along with the pestiferous squirrels who camp out there. Recently, two hunting dogs passed through the yard and immediately treed a squirrel in this flower bed. They were so happy; you could tell they were smiling. Their tails were wagging and they were barking in delight at their freedom as well as their hunting achievement. They, of course, being interlopers…as well as being dogs…had no concern for the plants they’d trampled chasing their beady eyed, bushy tailed quarry.

All this aggravation is the result of our generosity to the bird populace. Husband, while closely eyeing a fat dove, states if times get tough we may have to eat some of our feathered friends, as well as the squirrels and maybe the raccoons…but not stray dogs… so he’s willing to continue feeding the birds. Plus we enjoy watching them and listening to their singing. But I am aggrieved with them as well. They love to perch on our mailbox and survey their territory. In a great show of disrespect, they have turned our mailbox into their outhouse. This has put me in the delicate position of trying to outwit a bird as I try to figure a way to stop this behavior. (You may recall from one of my earlier writings that I was unsuccessful when matching wits with a squirrel.) In the meantime I have to clean their Porto Mailbox Potty daily out of concern our mail carrier will stop delivering our mail.

I’d better get back to those unwelcome guests I mentioned earlier. They’re beginning to make their presence known again, wandering into areas that should definitely be off limits. I am reminded of another verse on hospitality. This one from the Apostle Paul: “I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). Well. I certainly want to be giving to my Christian brothers and sisters and to the weak; and I will continue to feed these ungrateful birds, but I will not welcome this family of chiggers that has taken me hostage.

Posted in In Other Words | Leave a comment

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.)

Posted in In Other Words | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in In Other Words | Leave a comment

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

Posted in In Other Words | Leave a comment

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)

Posted in In Other Words | Leave a comment