"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Phantom Sin

      Today's ODB challenged me to examine my conscience once again. I'm afraid I presume upon God's grace in my attitude toward disciplined, spiritual practices. My Bible study is sporadic. And while I keep myself close enough to God that I can pray at any time, I don't habitually pray "without ceasing." To many brethren, these spiritual failures may not seem like much, but they inhibit my growth in the Lord. I won't be happy with my life until the world sees only the Lord in me, rather than the people-pleaser me.
      I'll admit, that view is more Calvinistic than I'd like. Calvinists define sin as any behavior or thought that falls short of perfect obedience. That's why they claim to sin daily in thought, word or deed. Our Armenian-holiness brethren have a far more selective definition of sin: It is any willful, overt disobedience of God's direct command.
      I wish I could step into the pages of scripture, into Paul's, David's, or the prophets' minds, to know how they viewed such fine points of spiritual practice. We force our definitions on their inspired words, assuming our interpretation is just as inspired. While we must stand on our beliefs, shouldn't we hold them somewhat loosely, maintaining a willingness to learn and change with new evidence? That said, such evidence must be highly compelling to make us change our beliefs.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Practice what we "preach."

      How will the world ever believe what we write, if we fail to live it consistently? Only by His grace will we be able to live by that standard. Not only will the world believe our written words, but our very life's profession. We don't have to write, or even tell, what we believe. Christians seem to exude their love for the Lord, mainly by their love for those in the world. In fact, it might be best to keep our mouths shut and our pens still until we can honestly see God's love lived out in our lives. We can't wait until we're "perfect," though. Then nothing would ever get said.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blind Dates Can Be Murder

      Mindy Starns Clark's Blind Dates Can Be Murder was a fun read. Mindy has a way of putting the reader into the characters' minds--disconcerting when the character is a sociopath.
      Also disconcerting is the way she ends this page turner. Who in their right mind wants a cliff hanger ending to a suspense novel? Sure, a sequel is in the works, but do I have to wait and see where it's going? 'Tain't fair!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Muss and Fuss

      During this "Joyous Season," we Evangelical Christians have taken to the habit of bashing those who bash the religious excuses for Christmas. We get all righteously indignant when a well-meaning sales clerk greets us with, "Happy Holidays." Those of us who are inclined to acerbic comments might demand, "And to what 'Holidays' are you referring?"
      So, after we've effectively embarrassed the poor P.C. twit, we continue on our manic, Christmas shopping spree, warm in the love of Jesus while we load up our credit cards with mountains of junk for relatives we don't even like. And when our kids get old enough to start asking the hard questions about Santa, we go into a panic, wondering how to gently let them in on the big lie we've been feeding them since they were old enough to know about Jolly Olde Elf.
      Good heavens, brethren, try a little consistency between your pet peeves and your cultural conformity. If you're going to fuss about forcing God out of the public schools, secularizing Christmas, and killing pre-born babies, think maybe about truly honoring God on Sundays by staying out of stores and restaurants that keep their workers out of church, celebrating Christmas and Easter without the commercial involvement, and helping unwed mothers in Crisis Pregnancy Centers. If living as a "little Christ" sounds like too much work, stop with the Christian verbiage.
      God's church needs to be a place devoid of hypocrites.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Winning Gracefully and Never Ceese

      Today's Our Daily Bread dealt with nobility in war. Joshua Chamberlain exemplified grace in victory by honoring the defeated, Confederate forces with respect and kindness.
      Can we as Christ's adopted brethren do less when dealing with Satan's defeated minions? Some believers in Christ are talented in debate. They can stand up to ridicule, thinking on their feet, making powerful arguments in defense of their faith. They can, and most often do, embarrass the opposition with their brilliantly stated logic and subtile, cutting remarks.
      In exercising their superior wit, do they demonstrate the grace of the Savior they verbally defend? Of course not. In fact, their words deny the very grace that saved them. They are hypocrites of the worst kind.
      This week's CFBA post is Never Ceese by Sue Dent.
      Never Ceese takes religious fantasy to a new level, bringing an entirely new Light to a very dark side of fiction, doing a very admirable job to prove that vampire/werewolf fantasy does not have to be evil to be enjoyed.
      The story starts with the classic tale of an English manor owned by Richard, the vampire who righteously is the bain of his neighbor's existence, what with the missing goats and all!
      Then enters Cecelia, better known as Ceese, the young werewolf maiden who's arrived via invitation by Richard's aging companion, Penelope.
      Ceese and Richard would prefer to tear each other apart, literally, but they are drawn together by their mutual love for Penelope. She is dying and has one request...that the two of them love one another.
      This is the overall theme throughout Dent's interesting tale of two who were wronged but learn to work together. Meanwhile they are threatened by an evil stem cell researcher who wants the immortality and power that he thinks their blood will bring him!
      Dent's characters do differ from the stock one's we're all accustomed to in a very important way. They are not mindless, brutal killers. Bloodthirsty, yes, but they are constantly resisting the urge to kill, and, thus, curse another human. Feeding on rodents, goats, virtually any warm-blooded animal helps to satiate the never ending thirst for blood, but how long will they be able to resist that most delicious morsel man?
      There is a chance that their curses can actually be lifted if they can find the strength within to resist their selfish natures and act selflessly toward another. Will they succeed? That same basic choice lies before us all every day...
      A vampire and a werewolf, one determined to, once again, be able to acknowledge what will get her to heaven, the other no so sure he can. A spiritual fantasy designed to spark the imagination, to speak to the heart as well as entertain.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas Spirit

      Our Daily Bread published a good reminder for Christians at this time of year. For those of us involved in the retail business, concentrating on the true meaning of Christmas is especially hard. Whenever we hear "We wish you a merry Christmas" piped over the PA system, we would do well to think of the Salvation the infant Savior bought us thirty-three years later.
      May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you abundantly in this season celebrating His birth.