Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:18

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Strange Taxes

In the 18th and 19th centuries, England, Scotland, and Great Britain taxed windows. This was an ingenious way to tax the wealthy without calling it a tax on the affluent. While some bricked their windows, it led to a fair and less arbitrary income tax on rich citizens.

Other crazy taxes include Denmark’s $110 per cow because of their methane byproducts. Alabama’s casinos complain of the ten-cent playing card tax for a deck of cards purchased in the state. Chicago charges an extra 5.25% tax on candy and sugary soft drinks. Amounting to $29 million per year, France taxes online ads on Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

However, no matter how unfair taxes may seem, our government expects us to pay them. God does as well.

In Mark 12:13-17, Jewish leaders came to Jesus and asked a question about the Imperial tax to try and trap him so they could bring a charge of disloyalty to the Roman government. In a stroke of genius, Jesus told them to, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

In Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus went a step further. The tax collectors came to Peter and asked if Jesus paid the temple tax (a tax owed by every Israeli male over 20. Exodus 30:11-15). Peter told them yes. After they left, Jesus reminded Peter that because he was Lord of the Sanctuary, he did not owe the temple tax. He did pay though to avoid any misunderstanding about his loyalty to the temple.

Be a good citizen. Be thankful for our schools, roads, and hospitals. Pay your taxes in full and on time.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Thanksgiving and the Midterms

Neale Donald Walsch, author of the series “Conversations with God,” wrote: “The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.”

On the eve of the 2018 Midterms, only God knows who will win, if the pollsters were right, and what lies ahead.

The results should make us thankful we could vote. When we voted, we can be glad we did not have a secret police officer looking over our shoulder. Further, the election results were not announced before all ballots were tallied.

Although not all of our candidates and positions on the amendments and propositions will likely win or pass, we can praise God because He is in control. He is the one who orchestrates human history. 
Remember to vote tomorrow.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Thoughts About Life

Ever had a sudden event happen that made you stop and think about life? Well, four of those events happened to me this week.

A dear family friend died of cancer. Becky was only in her fifties. She was brilliant. She had the personality and drive to become the CEO of a large company. Instead, she volunteered at the hospital where her husband was the administrator. No one expects to get cancer. That happens to someone else.

In my high school graduating class, there were twin brothers. Their mother died peacefully. Mrs. Harwell was my brother’s favorite elementary teacher. My nieces’ husband credits her with being the motivating factor in his becoming a fourth-grade teacher.

My ninety-nine-year-old neighbor passed away as well. He remembered your name and possessed the uncanny ability to know how to make you feel special. I suppose most think someone at his age could die at any minute. Yet, his family and friends hoped Archie would make 100. His death was too soon.

His son topped a hill in glaring sun and crashed into the back of a tractor. Emergency medicine could not save him. Mark is remembered for his fine thoroughbred horses and how he helped those in recovery. I remember him because he was kind to the little kids on the school bus.

Four times this week I was shaken by sad news. These tragedies made me wonder about the remainder of my family and friends.

If I received news of your untimely death, do you know where your soul would rest? If you have the slightest doubt, please call me. Write me. Text me. Email me. CONTACT ME.

I want to spend eternity with you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Same O’ Same O’ Church Services

We are near the end of summer and you realize your church did the same old (same o’ same o’) church picnic. Need some fresh ideas?

How about a Camo Sunday at your church next summer? Admission to the fun is wearing camouflage. Invite your community. Have it at the park where you ditch the pews for lawn chairs and park benches. If it is difficult to see the pastor for the sermon, use a six-foot tree stand. After services, have a picnic or grill hotdogs. 

A second idea is an Ice Cream Social. On a hot summer evening, nothing will attract the neighborhood like cold homemade ice cream. 
Put up a big screen or sheet and show family movies on the church property. Add snow cones and popcorn to continue the Movie Night theme. 
A Galilean Service is another fun summer activity. Find a good fishing lake, river, or farm pond. Invite the church and community to food and fishing. After an hour of catching fish, the pastor and worship team paddle a short distance from the shore or dock. Numerous sermons could be preached about Jesus and the disciples on the waters of the Galilee fishing for men. Finish the fun with lunch or a fish fry.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Religion of “No”

Psychologists talk about regret in two waysregrets of action and regrets of inaction. In church, you may have heard this called sins of commission and sins of omission. I am concerned believers have focused on the sins of commission for so long we have become defensive. To those outside the church, we seem negative and passive.

Sadly, by playing it safe, we do not follow God’s calling on our lives. Still worse, God is deprived of the glory He deserves.

Recently Barna Group reported half (51%) of churchgoers do not know what the Great Commission is. Jesus spelled it out in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” For the 51%, I think of this as the sin of no mission.

Recently I asked Alexa (Amazon’s voice-activated system on an Amazon Echo smart speaker), how many people are there in the world? She answered 7.4 billion. That is a lot of mission. All of us need to be involved to reach over 7 billion for Christ. There are plenty of positive proactive things to be done. Christians need to be recognized as people of action and answers.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

GQ's Article About the Bible Is Partly Right

GQ Magazine recently claimed the “Bible is overrated.” In an article entitled, “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read,” GQ lists some of the classics they think you can pass over. One of those mentioned is the Bible, the all-time bestseller.

Facts and Trends magazine reported Lifeway Research “found only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. And a little more than 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Almost 1 in 5 church goers say they never read the Bible.”

So, I partially agree with Jesse Ball at GQ who wrote, “The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.”

The pretense of those who say they live by biblical principles but have not read the Bible alarms me. What standard guides their life?

The Lifeway research changed my writing several years ago. When I use scripture in my manuscripts, I usually quote the verse rather than list the reference. I count several novel writers as my friends. Whether it be a preacher sermonizing, a note passed, or a character reading the Word, they include the scripture.

Any author will tell you, Paul wrote exhaustingly long sentences and some epistle writers were uneducated fisherman. Although the grammar is not perfect, the message is clear.

Yes, the GQ Magazine article, which encouraged their readers not to read the Bible, should disturb believers. However, the fact that so many regular church attenders do not read their Bible should set our hair on fire.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Celebrate the Resurrection

For the believer, the grandest day of the year is Easter. We celebrate the resurrection of our Lord in various ways. Some gather with family and friends at church. Certain songs remind us of the resurrection. Remember: “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” (Robert Lowry) Listen Here

Later, we may meet with family or friends for a special dinner. Some get up early for a Sunrise (Sonrise) service. Cantatas, plays, concerts remain popular. We sing with the choir, “Hallelujah, what a Savior!” (Philip Bliss) Sing Here

Some like to rejoice as a family making colored eggs. Others prefer Easter egg hunts. If you need some fresh ideas to party, try this link Scavenger Hunt, which describes how to do a scavenger egg hunt. As we hunt, we can sing: “He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!” (Alfred Ackley)  Sing Along

Because the eggs symbolize the ancient god of fertility, some families prefer to not use eggs or chocolate rabbits. No problem. Use small plastic bags and chocolate crosses. Together as a family, we can watch and sing: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.” (Bill and Gloria Gaither) Video Here

Other families play volleyball, badminton, or softball. Some folks shoot targets or skeets. By hiking or fishing, some enjoy the nature our Savior created. Whatever you do for fun, do it with great gusto this Easter. Join together to sing and dance: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.” Join In 

Please do not ever, positively never forget: He is risen. Celebrate!