Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Task At Hand

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."
These words, written by E.E. Hale and made more famous when quoted by Helen Keller, have inspired millions. They are similar in their intent to the statement of the Apostle Paul, "For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have" (2 Cor 8:12).

Too many of us focus on what we cannot do. We should instead focus on what we can do. As a song says, "If you cannot sing like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus and say, 'he died for all.'"

There are very few things in the work of the church that require a significant amount of skill or training. Most of the work of the church requires little beyond willingness. But instead of rising up and doing the simple tasks that are close at hand, too many seem to be waiting for some large, spectacular or distant task.
Remember, "a task at hand is worth two in the bush."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Unexpected Results

Years ago, one of the arguments advanced in favor of legalizing abortion was that it would reduce the number of unwanted children in our nation. In case you have not noticed, the attitudes fostered by abortion have had the opposite result. There are more unwanted and abused children now than there were before Row vs. Wade.

Doing evil that good may come often has these unexpected results.

Years ago, one of the arguments advanced for reducing church discipline was that it would help the church grow. After all, if we did not drum people out of the church, it was argued, we would have more people in the church. In case you have not noticed, this also has failed. Lowering standards within the church has resulted in a church that looks so much like the world that there often seems to be no point to church membership. Interestingly the greatest reductions have come to the denominations with the lowest standards of membership.

Years ago, one of the arguments advanced against spanking children was that, if they were not spanked, kids would feel more loved. They would, it was claimed, turn out better with milder use of discipline. In case you have not noticed, it does not seem to be working. I had a large extended family (more than 30 cousins). We were all spanked. The overwhelming majority of us turned out well. We certainly love and honor our parents. I see less love for, and much less honor for, parents of the spankless generation.

Maybe we should quit trying to predict results and just do things God's way. Maybe, since he said that shedding innocent blood is a sin, we shouldn't. Maybe, since he said to maintain discipline in the church, we should. Maybe, since he said that children need the rod of correction, we should give it to them. Of course, we will not apply his commands perfectly, so we will not always get perfect results. But I'll bet we would do better than we are currently doing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Not Arrogance

I trust that you will not think me arrogant if I say that we have had some wonderful weather this past week. I take no credit for the weather, I simply observe the fact that it was beautiful. To note the beauty of nature is not to be arrogant. It is just to note a fact. In a similar way, we should be able to rejoice in our health, our abilities, our knowledge of God's will, without pride or prejudice.

There are no self-made men. We did not bring ourselves into the world. We did not build the homes, the schools, or the churches in which we were nurtured. We have nothing of our own making. All that we have has been received as a gift from God (delivered through various means).

We need to ask ourselves what Paul asked the Corinthians, "What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" (1 Cor. 4:7) We need to ask this question frequently.

The Lord has blessed us with many resources and talents. We can enjoy them. We should make use of them. We should rejoice in them. But we should no more get prideful regarding these than we would become prideful upon observing a beautiful sunset. We should enjoy a beautiful sunset, but we should not pretend that we created it.