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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Exhausted, Yet Wide Awake

That's what my sisters and I were this morning. The reason for this paradoxical condition? Pastor Allen Miller. More specifically, Roz, Jane and I were privileged to sit under this man's teaching at Community Church of Oak Orchard in Millsboro, Delaware this morning, after a late night communing with sons, nephews and girlfriends. Our behavior may have been somewhat irresponsible, given the fact that we all realize Saturday night leads into Sunday morning, and that late night revelry often precludes early rising. Perhaps, though, we can beg a reprieve based on the fact that this was a unique situation of family reunion which will not likely recur anytime soon. Be that as it may, we all awoke sleepy and hankering for more shuteye. 

Roz cast aside her fatigue to run an errand, and Jane and I had just finished bemoaning the fact that church was probably not going to happen today. Just then, Roz called from the road offering to pick us up for worship. Since we were both dressed (if not rested), we eagerly agreed. Within 15 minutes we were sitting in the pew having our spirits nourished by a man whose walk with God is both practical and palpable. 

First, Pastor Miller led his flock in memorizing a Bible verse which was projected up on the screen behind him. Simultaneously, he challenged brave retainers of last week's memory verse to recite it for the congregation. He then proceeded to pass around a clipboard on which members and visitors alike could record prayer requests. During the course of his sermon, several little voices were heard from, to which this man of God lovingly responded in the tradition of Matthew 19:14. He interrupted his preaching just long enough to encourage two struggling parents to walk their restless child around if need be, rather than trying to make her sit still, while underscoring that their little girl was "welcome" because the church, like its master, loves children. 

In his message, Pastor Miller drew from Larry Wilson's article entitled Why Does the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Baptize Infants?, as well as his own analysis of the issue, to justify his sprinkling of a tiny tot in the morning service. His delivery was conversational rather than didactic, which kept my sisters and I nodding in understanding rather than nodding off. The only time any of our collective eyes closed was to blink, then quickly return to his heartfelt teaching.

We gave ourselves a gift by bringing our tired bodies into the house of the Lord today. He gave us a gift by setting His man in the pulpit, and allowing him to revive our drowsy spirits.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Taking Advantage and Taking for Granted ...

... are annoyances that many of us are familiar with. I would venture that most Christians have experienced the unpleasantness of being used on the one hand, or taken for granted on the other.

The question isn't when will it happen, but how will we as God's people respond?

Well, here's what I'm doing today. I may choose to languish in self-pity and righteous indignation again tomorrow, but for today, I took one last fleeting look at my bankroll of unforgiveness (Lot's wife would have cautioned against that backward glance), then sent it to the shredder.

A dear friend visited last night and bemoaned the fact that he sees himself taking a position of ingratitude with his Savior. He mentioned a couple of big blessings to which, he confessed, he realized he was yawning and saying, "Ho hum." He seemed genuinely concerned about his lack of appreciation for some really major workings of God in his life. This helped put me on the other side of the fence I've been straddling. The one where I know I'm as ungrateful a wretch as ever lived (proven by the fact that I received a token of love just last week, tossed it in my locker at work, and forgot to acknowledge it till I opened the locker two days later), but expect flowers and candy when I do the slightest bit of kindness for someone else.

Perhaps the greatest resentments I've been lugging around have centered on other believers who don't do what I expect them to (or what I see as their Christian duty). The Lord showed me recently that what I can learn from my brothers and sisters in Christ is much greater than the ways in which they fail me. In other words, as a 12 step program with which I am gratefully affiliated puts it, "Principles above personalities."

What a concept.