No Bad Candy

Tomorrow night we will be shining the light of Jesus as we Light The Night in downtown Cedar Springs. If you’re available to help, c’mon down and join us.

The city of Cedar Springs has an annual Spooktacular event. We want to be a part of our community, but we also want to focus on the brighter side of things (I blogged about this earlier here, and Chilly Chilton also has an excellent post here).

So we have taken on the expense to bring in a HUGE inflatable slide … we’ve designed and built some fun carnival games … we’ll be giving away prizes at those games … we will have cider and donuts for the parents … fresh popcorn for everyone … and a big bag of candy for every kid … did I mention it’s a BIG bad of candy!

And it’s good candy too! Not any of that “bad candy” that Tim Hawkins rails on…

Am I Learning?

In the Old Testament, there’s a phrase the repeats at the end of the historical record of almost every king of Israel and Judah —

As for all the other events of his reign, and all he did, are they not written down in the annals of the kings of Israel/Judah?

This phrase is repeated again and again (almost 40 times!). To me, the question mark at the end of this key phrase is really more like this: These stories are all here for your benefit… are you reading them? Are you learning from them?

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” — George Santayana

But maybe we think, “Those things don’t pertain to me.” Or even, “C’mon, that’s as plain as the nose on your face! I don’t need to study that because everyone knows you shouldn’t act that way!” How about this…

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm [if you think you know it all], be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Corinthians 10:11, 12)

Questions to ponder:

  • Am I reading these examples?
  • Am I learning from them?
  • Am I reviewing my own personal history?
  • Am I learning from that?
  • Am I writing down my experiences (failures and successes) so that others can learn from me?

When was the last time you learned something new from something old?

Thursdays With Oswald #9

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Your Greatest Stumbling-block

The greatest stumbling-block that prevents some people being simple disciples of Jesus is that they are gifted—so gifted that they won’t trust in the Lord with all their hearts.

From Approved Unto God

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth

But to us who are personally called by God Himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”

In my weakness, let Christ be strong!

Fizzle

Jehu, the king of Israel, said, “Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord!” Wow, this guy was so fired up about doing great things for God! He got rid of all of King Ahab’s idol-worshipping family, he removed all of the court officials who supported Ahab, and he even cleared all of the priests of Baal out of Israel.

God was so pleased with Jehu and his zeal for holiness that God said, “Well done! Because of what you have done, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel for the next four generations.”

What a God-fearing man Jehu was! How on fire for God!

Unfortunately, Jehu’s passion fizzled.

Aristotle famously said, “Well begun is only half done.” Jehu started well, but his zeal for God fizzled in the end.

In fact, the very next verse after God says, “Well done!” begins with a very telling word: Yet.

Jehu didn’t continue his walk with God. He began to fall away, and so the Bible adds this sad note: In those days the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel. Yes, Jehu and his descendants still sat on the throne, but Israel became smaller and smaller.

I want to start well and finish strong.

I don’t want to hear God say, “Well begun.” I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I don’t want to be “king” of a smaller and smaller sphere of influence.

I don’t want to fizzle… I want to keep on burning bright for God! How about you?

Less Giving = Less Good News

We just finished talking about what the Bible says about tithes and offerings at Calvary Assembly of God. Right on the heels of this I noticed this article in the Grand Rapids Press: “Study reveals church giving at lowest point since Great Depression.”

Here are some of the sad findings:

  • Regular church attendees aren’t even tithing. The average giving is only 2.4% of the attendees’ income.
  • While giving to churches is down, giving to other faith-based organizations is up.
  • The study’s authors noted a “long-term turning inward of congregations.” In other words, of the money that is given to churches, less and less of it is going to needs outside of the church’s walls.
  • Church’s spending on benevolence has dropped 47% since 1968, and now stands at just 0.35% of attendees’ income.
  • “Fewer people are seeing churches as the primary conduit for meeting the larger (charitable and evangelistic) need.”

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about the overflowing joy of giving to help the needs of others. He commended those with rich generosity, and encouraged the church to excel in this grace of giving.

Here’s the sad fact — the less we give, the less the Good News about God’s love is shared.

God wants us to give because we want to give. Paul even said I am not commanding you to give, but instead…

Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Let’s  change this around. Let’s buck the nationwide trend. Remember…

MORE GIVING = MORE GOOD NEWS

!

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites… (book review)

…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.

If this sounds like a provocative title, you’d be right. But Bradley R.E. Wright delivers with Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites. A sociologist professor, Dr. Wright digs into the numbers behind the headlines. Of course you’ve heard the age-old cliché: Figures never lie, but liars figure. Sometimes headline writers can take some stats to say what they want to say about Christians and the church, but Dr. Wright shines a light on these tricks.

Dr. Wright looks at some of the headline-grabbing topics like:

  • Is the church losing its young people?
  • Are evangelicals uneducated and poor?
  • Do Christians break the rules as much as non-churched people?
  • Do Christians really love others?
  • What do non-Christians think of Christians?

There are a ton of stats presented in this book. I happen to enjoy digging through the numbers, so there was just enough for me. But don’t worry, if you aren’t really a “numbers person,” there are some easy-to-read graphs and charts that make the numbers easier to digest.

My own slight hesitation with recommending this book is a slight sarcastic edge to Dr. Wright’s delivery. It’s not over-the-top, but at times I felt it was less than his best. But aside from this, I enjoyed getting a look behind the numbers.

I am a Bethany House book reviewer.

Touchdown!

That’s my boy, Harrison (#5), going in for a touchdown! Our junior varisty team had a great season, going 8-1 and winning the OK-Blue conference championship. Hooray for Cedar Springs JV Football!

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