Jul 21

The Game of LIFE

life-game1Have you ever played Milton Bradley’s, “The Game of LIFE?” Probably you have at some point. This game has been around a long time — since 1860! The object of this game is to cause its players to make several important “life decisions” and teach them several important “life lessons,” while having fun all at the same time. Some of those decisions and lessons were:

  • Whether to go straight to work, or go to college first.
  • Paydays are typically better for those who go to college.
  • Whether to buy or not to buy health/life insurance.
  • Having children can bring benefits as well as liabilities.
  • Life has many unexpected setbacks, as well as serendipitous blessings.
  • And ultimately, the decisions you make in life will determine whether you will wind up in a “Millionaire’s Mansion” or the “Poor House.”

But one lesson this game didn’t teach us; in fact, the most important lesson of all is this…

  • When the game is over, everything goes back in the box!

No matter how good you were at this game; no matter how much money you were able to accumulate; no matter who you were able to beat; at the end of the game, you had to put everything you had accumulated back in the box.

Friends, now that’s the greatest lesson you’ll ever learn from “The Game of LIFE.” No matter what you’re able to accomplish in life; no matter how much money you are able to earn in your lifetime; no matter how many people you competed against and over which you were victorious; when your life is over, it all goes “back in the box.” You take none of it with you. Then you’ll stand before your Maker.

So, how well are you doing at the “game of life?”

 

*The idea for this article came from a video I watched one the following website http://cryptik.squarespace.com. (I am not endorsing anything on this website, simply giving them credit for the idea).

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Jul 17

All Things Unequal

Have you ever noticed how much division there is in the religious world. Sometimes this division is due to “wrongheadedness,” but not always.  Sometimes disagreements arise due to honest misunderstanding.  And much of the misunderstanding can be attributed to our understanding of words and concepts. For instance, consider the list below.  Consider how believing these things are equal could impact doctrine and fellowship.

  • Loved by God = Accepted by God.
  • Tolerance = Approval.
  • Religious = Spiritual.
  • Sinner = Hypocrite.
  • Sorrow = Repentance.
  • Majority = Right.
  • Minority = Wrong.
  • Old = Stale.
  • New = Better.
  • Blessed = Problem Free.
  • Suffering = Discipline.
  • Christian = American.
  • Christ-like = In Christ.
  • Aged = Wiser.
  • Can = Should.
  • Attention to Detail = Pharisee-ism.
  • Certainty = Arrogance.
  • Uncertainty = Humility.

Can you think of others?

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Jul 16

Mental Illness

14745378_sYou finish the sentence. “I was sick and you _____________.”

Now, if we’re talking about heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, I’m pretty sure we could fill in the blank with “visited me.”  But what if we’re talking about mental illness?  Might the the sentence more truthfully be completed as follows:  “I was sick and you avoided and talked about me?”

I’m convinced that Christians (individually) and churches (collectively) have room for improvement in the way we minister to those who suffer from mental illness.  I’m afraid that there is a “whisper factor” involved with mental illness, and those who suffer from it live in fear of being discovered.  Consequently, they suffer alone, in silence, with little to no support.

But why should there be a stigma attached to those who suffer from mental illness?  Are chemical imbalances in the brain any less real than clogged arteries in the heart?  Would we stigmatize a person whose body doesn’t produce the right amounts of insulin, and therefore has to be medicated to regulate his levels of insulin?  Of course we wouldn’t.  Then why would we stigmatize a person whose body doesn’t produce the proper balance of chemicals to keep the brain functioning properly?

The National Institute of Health estimates that 26.2% of Americans, ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder.  That’s one in every four adult Americans.  That also means our churches are filled with people who are suffering with mental illness.  So the question begs to be answered, and answered Scripturally.  “I was sick and you ______________.”

May God help us to create a community of compassion and understanding.  May we create an environment in which people feel safe seeking help and support.  And may our response to those who suffer from mental illness be no less compassionate, loving, and Chrst-like than those who suffer with other illnesses.

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Jul 02

That’s Not What It Says

Have you ever tried to convince anyone that Jesus is the only way to Heaven? If you have, did you use John 14:6 as your proof?  In this passage Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

But I challenge you to re-read that passage.  Where does it say Jesus is the only way to Heaven?  Heaven isn’t even mentioned in the passage. The passage says Jesus is the only way to the Father.

But one might say, “Yeah, but the Father is in Heaven, right?  So this is just semantics. What difference does it make how you say it?”

Well, as I understand it, it makes a significant difference.  Consider:

  • If you are a grandparent, and your grandchildren were coming for a visit; would it matter to you if your grandchildren were excited about coming because they love to play in your yard or because they were excited to see you?
  • If due to work, you’ve been separated from your spouse for over a month, would it matter to you if your spouse was excited to get home because he loves his house or because he loves you?

Of course it would matter.  One may ask, what’s the difference if Jesus is the only way to “heaven” or the “father?”  The answer is relationship.  One is a place, the other is a person.  One is a gift, the other is the giver.  Should we not be more interested in going to see our Heavenly Father than seeing the neat things that belong to our Heavenly Father?

When being with our Heavenly Father is our goal, and Heaven is a perk, we’ll have our priorities right.  Give it some thought.

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Jun 25

Thankful to God

Grandma NoteToday I received a text from my sister.  It contained the picture to the left.  My sister has been going through some old boxes at our mom’s house.  Among the things she found was a calendar/journal that belonged to our grandma, Garnet Higginbotham.  The entry was from the day her daughter, our aunt passed away after a very long struggle with illness.  If you are unable to read her writing, she wrote the following,

“Joreen passed away 6 A.M.  She is no longer suffering.  I am thankful to God.”

At a time when many people question God; at a time when many people curse God with a raised fist; at a time when many people feel deserted by God, our grandma was giving thanks to God!

Apparently, our grandma understood something that many of us fail to comprehend, namely, “God is good…all the time!”

Oh, it’s easy to give thanks when things go our way.  When we’re healthy, happy, prosperous, and our plans succeed. When all these things line up just right, it’s so easy to say, “I’m blessed.  Thank you, God!”  But how do we react when we are ill, broken, in poverty, and our plans fail?  Do we still say, “I am blessed, thank you, God?”

It’s a mature faith that can thank God in the midst of trouble and heartbreak.  Job possessed such a faith and asked, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity!” (Job 2:10)?  Friends, God doesn’t stop blessing us because our circumstances become unpleasant.

  • Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8), but God’s favor sure didn’t make his life easier.
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus was blessed above all women (Luke 1:42, 48), but being pregnant and unmarried could not have been easy.
  • Paul was blessed by God, even being called a “chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15), but look at what that blessing cost him (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).

And then there’s your story.  You too have been blessed by God.  You too have countless reasons to give thanks.  Does all that change when bad things happen to you?  Are you no longer blessed when you are called upon to suffer?  Do you have no reason to give thanks when you walk through “the valley of the shadow of death?”

As a children of God, we’re blessed (period).  Circumstances don’t change that.  God is good…all the time!  And he is worthy of thanksgiving in good times as well as bad.

Today, I’m especially thankful to God for my departed grandma for reminding me that God is good…all the time.

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