ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - A license plate with nothing but the number "1" on it went for a record $14 million at a charity auction Saturday.
Saeed Khouri, a member of a wealthy Abu Dhabi family, wouldn't say how many automobiles he owned or which of them might carry the record-breaking single-digit plate.
"I bought it because it's the best number," said Khouri, whose family made its fortune in real estate. "I bought it because I want to be the best in the world."
(Yahoo News, Sat Feb 16, 10:51 PM ET)
How far will you go? When James and John asked for a privileged position in paradise, Jesus wisely said, “It is not mine to give.” (See Mark 10; Matthew 20) Their selfish expectations caused a rift among the ten disciples, who became indignant with James and John for even asking!
How far will you go?
Kathy was a beautiful girl who had just transferred to a new high school. Her greatest desire was to be the first sophomore to become a cheerleader on the varsity squad, and she had a chance to make it. She was friendly, cute, athletic and very smart. Her competition, a junior, was very popular with the players and would do anything to make the squad. When Kathy learned from the captain of the team what she would have to do to win, she readily agreed although it was contrary to all her Christian values.
When Jerome’s mom passed away at age 79, he was faced with the dilemma of what to do with Dad. Leaving him in the same house 75 miles away was not an option. So he either had to agree that Dad would go live with his estranged brother or let him move in with him. But Jerome had an extravagant lifestyle which he enjoyed, and moving Dad in with him would mean fewer trips and parties. So he agreed that his dad would live with his brother in another state. All went well until he learned that Dad had a considerable amount of money which he generously shared with his new family for necessary repairs and expenses. Jerome filed legal action against his brother and moved Dad back with him.
Pastor Maureen leads a church in a well-to-do suburb of a large western city. The form of church government allows her wide latitude for putting her own selections in positions of church leadership. Like many churches, they are struggling financially and she is concerned that the offerings are not consistent and begins to wonder about it. When she was questioned by one of the wealthy members regarding a nominee she had recommended for the church board, Pastor Maureen defended her selection by stating that the person in question had served in many places of servant leadership and she thought it was time to include him on the board. “But his financial giving is meager,” came the quick response. “If you would select people for the board who actually support the church, it will increase the offerings.” From that moment, Pastor Maureen began checking the personal giving habits of the congregation before making recommendations for the board.
Chris dropped out of college his senior year to take a great position in a local corporation. He was promoted steadily and reached middle management in a very short time, a rarity in that company for someone without a college degree. Even though he was imminently qualified, he continued looking over his shoulder, concerned that someone under him with better credentials might one day try to take his place. When he was given a new division, he had the opportunity to promote one of his own employees to the position of supervisor, just one step beneath his own pay level. Two people were seeking the promotion: Mark was steady, dependable and capable of doing the job. But Andrew was just a step ahead of Mark, plus he had a college degree. Either one could do the job and do it well. Fearing that he may one day be in competition with the person he promoted, Chris decided to promote Mark because he did NOT have a degree.
How far will you go to be number one? My mother taught me about integrity. She used a popular phase, “Don’t sell your soul to the devil.” Of all the people I know, Christians should NOT need to be warned about that! There are consequences for every sin whether it is committed by a believer or an unbeliever. Unconfessed sin is just hanging out there. God can’t do anything with it until it is “agreed” upon by the offending party.
I love going to church! Maybe it’s because I find it easier to be a Christian when I’m there than when I’m not. I do admit that singing about a closer walk with Jesus is a far cry from practicing it in school, relationships and business. If we can only do our theology at church then we need to take a step back and see if our beliefs are broken in some perverted way. Religion which doesn’t work in the marketplace is not worth much. It only encourages the Christian to behave just as selfishly as everyone else, and that leads to ethical anarchy.
You don’t need a license plate with a big “1” plastered on it to actually be Number One! My only competition is me. If I am satisfied that my walk with God is consistently growing and if I am practicing my Golden Rule faith everyday, I can find something better to do with 14 million dollars than to purchase a vanity plate for my 1995 Geo Tracker.
“Instead of bronze I will bring gold, and instead of iron I will bring silver; and instead of wood, bronze, and instead of stones, iron. [Instead of the tyranny of the present] I will appoint peace as your officers and righteousness as your taskmasters. Violence shall no more be heard in your land, nor devastation or destruction within your borders, but you shall call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. The sun shall no more be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you, but the Lord shall be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory and your beauty.”
(Isaiah 60:17-19 - Amplified Bible)
In a nondescript area of the city, surrounded by high walls and iron gates, sits a safe haven for many women and children, victims of abusive relationships.Many leave with the clothes on their backs and nothing more than hope.
Volunteering at several shelters lately has made me keenly aware of the pain some of our women endure, but what about the children?They are the products of the sins of the men in their lives, in many cases; have we considered their plight?
If “eyes are the window of the soul,” I have seen the hell.My heart breaks as I relive my volunteer experience, working in the nursery for a few hours with 1-1/2 to 3 year olds.
While I tried to be helpful in organizing the closet full of educational games and toys, along with a colleague, it wasn’t what these children wanted or needed from me.Several cried and asked for their mothers.Most were clinging to us like white on rice.Several reached for me and said “hold.”How could I resist????
I stopped often, in the middle of my assignment, sat down and held them and tried not to cry with them - my emotions extremely raw.
The one three-year-old had such a sweet disposition (as most of them) and still wore a diaper.(In most normal families, he probably would be potty trained by now.Intellectually I knew he should be, but in my heart, I was not surprised.He has been through so much…)
It boggles my mind to know that these safe havens are needed, but I am thankful that they exist - giving these families a fair chance at a life beyond the walls… of pain and shame.
After painting together and reading books, we took the children outside to the playground on a beautiful day.Even with the diversion of a brightly colored jungle gym and the slide, it wasn’t enough to keep them occupied.They were back in our arms before long.Just a simple request - “hold” - a longing that I could supply.
A few hours later I hated to leave, but had to return to my regular job for the remainder of my day.As I drove out the driveway, iron gate closing behind me, I felt no relief, just a heavy heart as I turned to look beyond those walls.I wanted to “hold” those children and their mothers and I do, in my heart.
I pray for them to have the strength not to return to their perpetrators, to find the wherewithal to provide a life for them and their family and to know that God loves them and this is not the life He planned for them.
As these mothers pick up the shattered pieces of their lives and strive to build a new one, they need us – as volunteers and our continual prayers.
It is my pledge to return again, with thanksgiving that I have the capacity to “hold” and to see beyond the walls, acknowledging God’s hand in my life.Also, thanking my father who imparted the words, “If a man hits you once, he will hit you again.”That fact has been passed on to my daughter and will continue to be passed down to her children and other young women who are part of our lives.
GospeLines Prayer:Abba, Father, I am but one person, but am reminded it takes but one to make a difference.Show me how to be sensitive to those situations where one of Your children needs to be lifted up and out of abusive relationships and help me guide them to a safe haven.
Your sons and daughters are precious in Your sight.Help us learn to love and respect each other and to learn that women are not chattel and are to be valued.The statistics of violence against women around the world are staggering.
Help us see beyond the walls of ignorance, prejudice and all that impedes our growth in love and through You.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, October 21, 2009
"Looks Can Be Deceiving"
The long trek from my office to the soft-drink machine takes only a few minutes. That’s the way it should be I think. After all, a man needs a “drink” once in awhile. At the end of the vending machine hallway there are double doors which enter into the sanctuary (I work at a church). This day the doors were open and what I saw was anything but sacred! There were 25 or 30 balls scattered in various positions across the floor. The chairs which are always lined up evenly in four large sections to accommodate the Sunday crowd, were stacked crudely against the walls.
The large room was now divided with a net hung from a heavy rope which stretched the length of the room. The top of the net reached about a dozen feet from the floor to separate the worship center into two parts. The floor was carefully marked off with tape to provide some sort of boundary for the dodgeball teams which would occupy the building later in the evening. For the first time I clearly saw the heavy black lines painted on the carpet of the place where I worship God on Sundays which actually forms two basketball courts.
Across the area where the pulpit usually stands and from where the orchestra and choir provide beautiful music, was a very large, heavy curtain. It reminded me of the curtain in the Old Testament, tall and thick, which separated the common folk from the Holy of Holies. Obviously, this curtain which spanned the width of the room was provided to keep the volley balls out of the choir loft.
This is Monday. We will have about 60 teens here tonight, playing and cheering on their favorite teams. On Saturday, my worship center/dodgeball court will then become a worship center/dodgeball/basketball court. On that day there will be about 100 kids for Upward Basketball, and at least that many adults crowded inside to scream encouragement for their children.
On Friday it becomes a movie theater for the youth; next month it hosts a superbowl party; and in a couple of months for three incredible performances, it will be transformed into a stage where a cast of 250 will present the annual Easter Pageant. This will be complete with flying angels (for real, and attached from the ceiling!), a heavy authentic looking cross, pneumatic platforms which lift actors 15 feet above the stage, and live animals of all kinds (phew)!
Some call this place a gymnatorium, or a multi-use facility. Sometimes it’s a little bit of everything, this…
For me it’s the place where I meet with my church family on Sunday’s to sing, pray and hear the Word of God preached. It’s where I kneel at the altar with fellow sinners; where I weep through songs which touch my soul; where I hold my wife’s hand in worship. But if you could see it today you wouldn’t recognize it as being a special place. Tonight it will overflow with noisy, sweaty teenagers. But to me… it’s church! Looks can be deceiving!
Have you ever been judged by your looks? Then you know what I mean. I have a white beard and white hair, paunchy, short, and I smile a lot. Sometimes I tell people that if they see me as being an easy target just because I look like Santa, then that would be a mistake. I know a guy that dresses and looks like he is a pauper… but he’s one of the wealthiest men I have ever met!
Just because it sometimes looks and smells like a gym, and sometimes looks and smells like a stable with flying angels, that doesn’t make it any less of a place where I can meet God on a regular basis. We would be well warned that a building does not a church make! When I was seeking a church home I wasn’t looking for the loudest or the prettiest. I didn’t care if it was the richest or the poorest congregation. I was looking for a place where I could find God in worship within the fellowship of other believers. Too much is made over emotionalism, denominationalism, sensationalism, and dispensationalism when it comes to church. Let’s set aside all our phony-isms and get serious about the business of worshipping God and providing a place for real fellowship among the saints of all ages. Let’s make a statement to those few church leaders who are in-it-all-for-the-wrong-reason, who qualify their constituents by the dollar sign. To the congregation at large, I implore you to keep focused on the only reason for CHURCH… and you will not feel deceived when you read about another “fallen” religious leader in the news.
Find a church home that doesn’t just smell right, look right, sound right… make sure they do the important stuff right! Because… looks really can be deceiving.
Why do we insist on challenging God?“God, where were You when the planes flew into the towers on 9/11?Where were You when our children were slaughtered at Columbine High School?Where are You now when I'm sitting here hurting?”
How often have we asked these questions?"How can God be real if all these bad things keep happening?Wouldn't a good God stop these tragedies and all this pain from happening?"
Hear His reply: “My poor lost and confused children, only 26 verses into the Bible, I said, 'Let Us make man in Our image.'I did not say, 'Let Us change Ourselves into man's image.' "
Every day, all over the world, people are trying to shape God into their image.We don't want to face His wrath; so, we ignore the scriptures on eternal damnation.We say we want to attract young people to our services; so, we don't preach against pre-marital sex or abortion or homosexuality because it's not "politically correct" today and some might be offended and not come back to our services.
At every football game, I see a sign that reads "John 3:16."I'm waiting for one that says "John 3:18."Do you think I'll ever see it?
Because we don't want to admit our sin, we run from place to place in search of something that always seems to elude us.We recreate God in our image so we can avoid His righteous condemnation and judgment.Cathy Ciaramitaro wrote in her recent book "The Cross," that: "We live in a day when, if we stand for righteousness, we are classified as bigots by many. 'Close minded,' 'judgmental' and 'intolerant' are common accusations heard by Christians who stand up for morality in our land."
God created us in His image as spirit beings.We have fleshly bodies; but, we are at our core, spirits... spirits with the freedom to choose our paths. Jesus said "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:22-23)How much more clearly can the Lord make His teaching?
Many religions today, want to "cherry pick" scripture.They only quote select verses that seem to support their idea.God gave us His Word as a complete work... His complete will.We must study all of scripture.When one verse seems to contradict another, it is our understanding that is in error, not His Word.In those cases, we are to keep reading, praying and studying His Word until, with the help of the Holy Spirit; we understand the complete message... His complete will.
Noah was ridiculed as he labored to build the arc; but, he chose to believe God.He and his entire household continued their labors as God commanded.As a result of his belief, he and his house were saved.
Abraham chose to believe God that he would have a son by supernatural means.After that son was born and God told Abraham to offer him as a sacrifice, Abraham believed that God would raise his son from the dead and keep His promise.Abraham made a choice to believe God.
God has told us that we should "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27) and that "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15)
Brethren, he never said to pick and chose what we would obey or believe.He gave us His Word so that we might understand His heart and know His unbounded love for us.We are the ones who added "chapter and verse" so we could take His loving Word apart and try to justify our actions by quoting only the parts that seem to satisfy our actions.
Diligently study the Word in its entirety.It is His love letter to us and it shows us His heart.We have the power to accept it and live God's way; or, we can reject it, reformat it to our image and live our way.We have the free will... the choice is ours.
"Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
A sinner’s prayer does not exist in the Bible. It is a man-made prayer we have developed to describe how a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord. It could go something like this:
"God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!"
This is a great prayer but it is NOT in the Bible. Something that IS in the Bible, which is more a confession than a prayer, is this:
“Jesus is Lord.”
Many Protestants deny that Catholics are Christian and shy away from anything that has Catholic attached to it. That’s a shame, because most Catholics are Christians, the same as most (but not all) Baptists are Christians. (I have Baptist roots, so I can pick on us.I could have said the same about any protestant denomination.) To have disagreements simply because of denominational choices is both sad and ignorant. A good example of this is the use of the rosary by Catholics. This practice gives many protestant Christians the “heebie jeebies” (not a biblical word). Why? Because they don’t understand the meaning behind it. I challenge any Baptist to try to study the meaning of the rosary and learn it. You will be surprised how much scripture is in recitation of the rosary! While you may not agree with its use, many Catholics put Protestants to shame in their memorization of Bible scriptures and truths.
Regarding the confession from Scripture, “Jesus is Lord,” Christianity has added to this simple phrase through the centuries, both Catholic and Protestant groups. Two popular creeds which are still used in churches today are listed below:
The Apostles' Creed
Dated approximately 700 AD
Traditional English Version
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.
Nicene Creed – AD 325
Traditional Wording, used since around 1549
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.
There aren’t many things we would disagree with in these Creeds. But the use of them in various churches has divided us because we have differences about our worship styles and practices, and the use of printed prayers in the act of worship.
We also have differences about things like the “sinners prayer.”Is there just one sinners prayer?And if I don’t say the words exactly like my brother or sister wants me to say them, am I not a Christian?
Shame on us! How I pray that we could one day celebrate our likenesses and put aside most of our differences. We have a greater enemy to fight than each other. In the near future, in the USA, it is going to take the strength of all Christians of every denomination to defeat the fastest growing non-Christian influence in the world. It has already spread not-so-quietly throughout Europe and is growing in the USA at unbelievable rates. And here we are, arguing among ourselves. And if you do not know what I am talking about, please do take your head out of the sand.
I serve a righteous God who is full of grace.His Word is my command.Since March of 2000 I have represented an online ministry which is conservative in theology, and liberal in evangelism.We minister to ALL and seek to find non-believers in every part of the world.Now we are under attack, not by those outside the Christian faith, but by one who proposes to be a follower of Jesus.As the president and founder of GospeLines Ministries, it is my responsibility to denounce strongly any attempt to discredit what God has faithfully built up.But I stop short of using disparaging remarks about anyone in my defense of the Gospel.The apostle Paul would not do that; he merely shared the Word of God with boldness and clarity. Although I fall short of knowing entirely what it means, I am still struggling to learn how to love those who think they are my enemies.
God help us to be as willing to fight the real enemy as we are eager to fight one another.