Friday, April 16, 2010

Basic Decisions

Life is possible only because of basic decisions.

Like setting the alarm clock and getting up and going to work … or checking our email to stay in touch … washing our hands often … looking both ways before we cross the street … paying our bills … getting our car oiled and lubed … saying “please” and “thank you.”

Basic decisions keep life headed in the right direction and on track.

Basic decisions are hardly remarkable or exciting, but essential to our well-being.

The Christian Life consists of basic decisions – none of which are exciting or dramatic, but all of them are essential.

Basic decisions productively move the Christian Life along the track of time.

What are some of the basic decisions of the Christian Life?

The first is so simple and basic it hardly needs mention: like drinking water when you’re thirsty, or taking a shower after a day of gardening in the hot sun.

The First Basic Decision: worship in your community of faith. Worship is like the first step on a Saturday morning walk, or the first leg of a trip. Here is where the Christian Life begins – in community, singing God’s praises and hearing the Word of God read and proclaimed. Sitting next to friends and strangers, and drinking coffee afterward, handling a bulletin and saying corporate prayer. Pretty basic stuff!

The Second Basic Decision: read God’s Word regularly and pray often. Scripture and Prayer are the means by which God feeds the soul. And we all know how crummy we feel if we’re really hungry. There are lots of folks who feel spiritually crummy because their soul is hungry. Sadly, if the soul isn’t fed on God’s good stuff, we’re likely to eat junk food, and there’s plenty of that around. But junk food doesn’t satisfy; it only bloats. We need good food, and the best food for the soul: Bible reading and prayer, done regularly. If you need guidance, check with a pastor. And if your church offers Bible study or courses on prayer, sign up for them. Just do it!

The Third Basic Decision: read solid books written by solid Christian writers. If you have questions about this, check with your pastor.

The Fourth Basic Decision: have fellowship with other Christians. Hang around with people who are moving along the same way you are. Talk with them and pray with them., break bread with them and have some fun. Engage in projects with them. Go to a soup kitchen. Clean up the beach. Go on a hike. Visit a nursing home. Grow vegetables for a community food pantry.

The Fifth Basic Decision: know what’s going on in your world. Pay attention to your politicians and read the news (print edition in a good paper or on-line). But pay attention and ask yourself, “What does God’s Word have to say about this? What are other Christians saying about these things? Are my thoughts shaped by Christ?” This requires some real thinking and learning, but it’s vital to our Christian Life. We don’t live in a vacuum, and it’s God’s world after all.

Sixth Basic Decision: invite others to worship with you. Pick them up; have lunch afterward. Stay with it. Do it again. Help them grow. Who knows, you may be the one God uses to bring them into the love of Jesus Christ. This usually takes a lot of time. Months, even years. But persevere in your purpose. It’s your mission. And it’s vital!

Seventh Basic Decision: give faithfully and given proportionately of your income to God! This means sitting down with pencil and paper and figuring our what your income is (Uncle Sam helps us do this part of it) and then determine what percentage you can give. The standard is 10 percent. It’s not a law, but it’s a guideline. I recommend the half-tithe, or five percent. It’s a good place to begin and it’s real. And then say to God, “I promise to give this much to you and to my community of faith.” Giving to other charities is another matter. Don’t substitute charity for faithful giving to your community of faith. And, please, don’t try to substitute time for money. Time-giving is good, but it’s no substitute for money – try going to your favorite restaurant and tell them, “I won’t pay for this meal, but if you’ll let me wash dishes, I’ll eat here.”

There’s more to the Christian Life then the above, but these basic decisions keep us on track with Christ and enable us to live a productive and satisfying Christian life.

Just like looking both ways before we cross the street.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

Good morning and much peace to you.

After a delightful weeks of travels, I’m back in the saddle again.

Felt good to lay it all down for awhile, and it feels good to pick it up again. I’m eager to preach on Psalm 30 this coming Sunday, with an eye on Revelation 5:11-14 – the message is titled, “The Other Side of Sorrow.”

Now that Lent and Easter is behind us, we enter a period of time wherein we ponder what it means for us to live because we know that Christ is risen from the dead. We know this in a deeply spiritual sense, as the Holy Spirit of God testifies to us in the deeps of our being – “He is risen, he is risen, he is risen, indeed!”

We can never prove any of it, of course, and there’s no need to prove any of it, thank God!

It is ours only to live – to live a grateful life, because the stone was rolled away and Christ is risen from the dead. In so living, there is no greater witness to our world than our gratitude, deeply felt and thoroughly lived, even when the chips are down and the sun has set.

As the Psalmist so wisely notes, sorrow lasts but for the night, and joy comes in the morning!

See ya’ Sunday in God’s House, Covenant on the Corner – on the other side of sorrow, the sunny side of the street!

Glad to be back in the saddle again!