Spiritual Maturity

"When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do.  But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways."  [1 Corinthians 13:11]

Have you ever noticed that kids typically want to be "grown up," even when they haven't yet earned the title?  They can't wait until they are older, but don't always want to accept the maturity that's supposed to go with age.  As I was writing notes on 1 Corinthians 13 for a Wednesday Night Bible Study, I was struck by the significance of Paul's words to the church folk in Corinth.  They had been misbehaving, placing a lot of energy in their new-found spiritual gifts (knowledge, tongues, prophecy, miracles, generosity), but they apparently weren't doing a very good job of simply loving each other.  There was division in the church based on the very spiritual gifts God had given them – abusing the gift of tongues, envious of each others gifts, selfishness, impatience – the kind of behavior that disgraces the One who gave the gifts.  Spiritual gifts, no matter how exciting and wonderful, no matter how much fun they are...are useless and even destructive if they are not shared in love.  Paul tells the church that they are just being noisy gongs and clanging cymbals, that they are of no use to the kingdom, if they choose to simply run around flashing their gifts without having any love for each other in their hearts.  If the gifts of God are worth a fortune, the grace of God is immeasurable.  And God's grace is best seen in the love He shares with us and the love we share with one another.

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April Fools

I saw a sign in front of a church that made the declaration: "April 1st – National Atheists Day!"  It made me chuckle a little as I drove past.  Then I remembered the Bible tells us to be careful about calling another person a fool  (Matthew 5:22).  That passage deals more with being angry with a brother than a harmless joke on April Fools Day, but we do need to watch what we call others.

On the other hand, what better day could you pick for National Atheists Day than April 1st, April Fools Day?  The Bible makes this point clear also: "Only a fool would say there is no God!"  [Psalm 14:1]  The Bible states that anyone who denies God is a fool!

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A Landmark Decision

In February, I spent some time looking into Black History events.  I also happened to have recently seen two really good movies on Abraham Lincoln's legacy.  Many of you are aware of the landmark Supreme Court decision of 1954 titled Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education.  That legislation ended segregation in public schools.  Did it stop racism?  Hardly.  But, since then, when a lawyer stands in a courtroom, he or she can reference Brown v. Topeka, Kansas Board of Education to legitimize someone's rights today.  It was a landmark decision.

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The Ankle Bone's Connected to the Leg Bone

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."  [1 Corinthians 12:4-7]

This part of Paul's letter to the church in Corinth is probably familiar to many of you.  Paul describes those in the church (you and me) as being equal parts that, put together, make up a working and connected body that functions well because all the parts are connected and fit together for the purposes of God.

For various parts to perform outside their intended functions, it would be like an eye trying to hear.  When some parts feel it's not necessary to perform their given function, it would be like a foot not walking because it isn't a hand.  Doesn't make much sense, does it?  Eyes see, ears hear, feet walk, and hands hold.

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Making Contact

I can remember watching the New York Yankees on our black and white TV many Saturday afternoons in the 60's.  One of my favorites Yankees was Yogi Berra (this was a real person, not the cartoon character with his buddy, BooBoo).  Yogi was the catcher and by definition that means part of his job was to mess with the opposing batters while they were at the plate – talking a little trash about the batter's mother, or making fun of his hitting abilities, or that he swings like a girl.  The point was to mess with the batter's mind in order to take his focus off of why he was standing in the batter's box.

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Trading Stress for Joy at Christmas

At this time of year, almost in spite of ourselves, we begin to expect remarkable things from the Christmas Season.  We want happy family gatherings, meaningful traditions, and deep spiritual experiences...Instead, we often experience stress, fatigue, over-indulgence, and consumerism.

As children of God, how can we have the Christmas we've always longed for?  I hope you'll get some help in answering that question this Advent Season through worship and fellowship and study.  It seems we get so caught up with all the other parts of the holiday that we end up giving in (or giving up) when it comes to what our time together at church might offer – a holy day.

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"All The Earth Is Mine"

This is the month of Thanksgiving.  So, let's give thanks right now and all month for the many, many blessings of God we enjoy – an abundance of everything we need and even more, so that we can be not only grateful, but generous, too.  This also is the month of stewardship in the church.  Will you just shut down at hearing that, expecting the next thing you read to be about getting your checkbook out?  Or will you read on?  We'll see...  Well, if you're still reading, good for you.  Because, the subject of stewardship causes both confusion and consternation among some of the best of Christians.  The issue of money is really only a very small part of the topic.  I doubt that God is worrying right now about how our little church is going to pay its bills and commitments to ministry.  I believe if He really just wanted your money, you probably would have an empty billfold at this moment.  Money is mentioned a lot in Scripture; about as much as any other topic.  I'm thinking the only reason for that is not because it's so important to God.  I think He put so much in the Bible about money because it seems to be so important to us!

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