Odds & Ends: July 2017
One or the other
Either we trust in God, and in that case we neither trust in ourselves, nor in our fellow-men, nor in circumstances, nor in anything besides; or we do trust in one or more of these, and in that case do not trust in God.
After being a team for six years, minimally sighted Graham Waspe and his guide dog Edward suffered the loss of Edward’s vision. Very soon, Graham received a new guide dog, Opal, but he didn’t give Edward away. Instead, Opal now leads them both — and they all share strong bonds of love.
Does God love us for the ways we serve him? When we can no longer carry out the tasks we’ve long done, will God love or approve of us less? We seem to believe so, judging by how we keep track of our good works and those of others.
But God loves us for who we are — his children. Our deeds of service show our love for God in return; they don’t earn his love. When we become sick or disabled, God doesn’t count us worthless and dispose of us. He keeps loving us and brings others near to serve not only him but us as well. Like the retired guide dog, may we rest in that loving care.
The topic for the children’s message was Matthew 4:19, when Jesus told his disciples to become fishers of men. The woman giving the message asked the children if they’d ever been fishing — and what they used for bait. “Worms!” the children answered.
Then the woman explained that Jesus wants his friends to follow him and tell others about him. “How would you catch men?” she asked.
One little girl piped up, “With cologne!”
—Faith Lutheran Church, Spencer, Iowa
“May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please but as the opportunity to do what is right.”
God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.
If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.
Fate of the revolutionaries
We call them heroes. The British called them traitors. Many of them turned out to be martyrs. Here is what happened to some of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence:
- Five were captured and tortured as traitors.
- Nine joined the revolutionary army, fought and died.
- Eight men had property looted by the British army or by vandals.
- One signer’s home was taken over by a British general. The owner, Thomas Nelson Jr., asked
- General Washington to burn the home down. The general did.
- The home of Francis Lewis was destroyed and his wife put in jail. She died shortly thereafter.
- Three men had their fields and mills destroyed.
In one way or another, all of the men paid a dear price as a result of their rebellion. Still they were faithful to the pledge they made on July 4, 1776:
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States .... And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Pray often; for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.
How would you feel ...
If God gave us the same amount of time and attention that we devote to him?
If God put as many things ahead of us as we put ahead of him?
If God offered as many excuses as we do and if the excuses were not more justifiable than ours?
If God’s promises were no more certain than ours?
If God withheld his blessings from us as we withhold our offerings to him?
… and then some
Shortly after a business executive retired, someone asked him what had been the secret of his success. He chuckled softly, and then said that it could be summarized in three words: “… and then some.”
He explained that he had learned early in his career that the top people in any group were those who did what was expected of them … and then some.
Such people worked diligently, efficiently, faithfully … and then some. They were thoughtful and kind to others … and then some. They were reliable friends who could be counted on … and then some. If an emergency came, they tried to do their share to deal with it … and then some. In short, they were more than ordinary people, they tried to be extraordinary.
That is precisely what Jesus expected and still expects of his followers. When he was teaching his friends about loving and serving others (see Matthew 5:43-48), he included these words, “What more are you doing than others?” (v. 47, NRSV).
Christians do what is required … and then some.