Tuesday, October 27, 2009


We often speak with a tinge of embarrassment if our children wear someone else's hand-me-down clothes. I guess somewhere not so deep down I want to boast that I buy brand new, name brand shoes and jeans for my boys. However, like most people, my pocketbook can't keep up with my pride.

Hand-me-downs have always been a part of life. The book, Cheaper by the Dozen, is about a family with twelve children who worked to live as efficiently as possible. They tell how when the oldest boy shopped for a suit, his five brothers went with him to give their approval, because they knew one day it would be passed down for each of them to wear.

When I was a kid, I was always rather proud to receive some of my big brother's clothes. At first, they would be a little big for me, so I would stand as tall as I could and stretch my arms so my hands would show. My brother's clothes told me that I was getting bigger like him and was not a little kid anymore. Moreover, there was a nice feeling that my brother was with me when I walked in his clothes.

The Bible talks a lot about our clothes. God provides them for us and we are supposed to share them. Back then people tore them when they felt anguish. Jesus' clothes shone brightly when his glory was fully revealed.

Certain qualities are like clothes that we put on: righteousness (Job 29:14), strength (Is. 51:9), and humility (1 Pet. 5:5). The apostle Paul told us to put on God's characteristics as if they were His clothes handed down to us. We are to put on compassion, kindness, meekness, patience, and love (Col. 3:12-14)). When we wear the Lord's garments, we become more like Him, taking on a new identity "according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24).

I will never be embarrassed to wear God's hand-me-downs.    

Friday, October 23, 2009

Living in the Rhythm

He was a talented pianist and had a nice voice. He was sincere as he led the music in our devotional. He closed his eyes and rocked back and forth as he performed. And the whole thing irritated me so much I wanted to run from the chapel!

It wasn't him; it was the song--a little three line ditty about sitting back and letting God love us. We sang it slowly and repeatedly and I thought it would never be over.

See, I'm not at a place where sitting back passively and waiting for God to come to me is good. God speaks and acts powerfully in my life when I am active and serving. When I move, God moves. When I wait on God, he waits on me.

However, before I get too critical of the aforementioned musician, perhaps I should explain that he is active in prison ministry. He works with guys who have little else to do but sit. Some of them have chosen to follow Christ, so when they sit, they read their Bibles, pray a lot, and sit back to meditate. Some of them have never known love, so sitting back and letting God love them is just what they need.

Life is like that. Sometimes we are weak and slow, so it is time to sit back and spend quiet time with a loving Savior. Other times we are strong and energetic, so it is right to move with God in service to Him.

It's a rhythm. In the book of Acts, the phrase "get up" occurs often, usually after a disciple has been praying for some time. First we sit. Then we move. Then we rest until its time to go back to work.

This sounds like a simple process, but I think we have problems that stem from working when we should be sitting and sitting when we should be working. So if we're frustrated or angry or just plain worn out, perhaps we need to make sure we're not trying to go against the rhythm.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's Not What I Know, but Who

On occasion, I'm challenged by people of other faiths or persuasions. One of the accusations leveled at Christians is that no matter how we say it, we believe that we are better and everyone else is wrong and unacceptable. They say we are closed minded and won't entertain any other viewpoints, even if we listen respectfully for a few minutes.

It's hard to argue with this. Christianity does make a bold claim: "There is salvation in no one else." (Acts 4:12). To a point, they're right. While I value being nice and reasonable, I do not agree that Mohammed is on the same level as Jesus. I don't believe that all faiths lead back to the same God. I can respect anyone enough to let them have their beliefs, but I do not have to agree with them to respect them.

Frankly, I don't like fighting from this corner. They can label me an elitist judgmental closed minded individual who insists that no one else is as good as me. But couldn't we come at this another way?

I'm not right. I'm not better. I just know about someone wonderful who makes me feel special and empowers me. I know someone who knows me and wants to be close to me. He offers me a future and a hope.

Does that make me better? No, it makes me grateful.

And this person gave me an assignment. I can't keep this gift to myself. I'm supposed to share it. When I do that, I mean no insult or disrespect. I have only good will which should be my only motivation.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Words Rightly Spoken

It never fails. If I say something with great emphasis, I have to come back and temper it because it was too extreme.

Previously, I wrote about how talking too much can be selfish, which is true enough. But a good friend made me think about it over some more. Like me, he likes to talk a lot, and he took my article to heart. He wasn't angry or defensive like some would be, but conscience stricken. He said he was going to work hard to not talk so much.

The thing is, I don't want him to be silent, even a little bit. He is enthusiastic, kind, and encouraging. He's smart and thoughtful. His words are always a blessing.

Some people don't talk enough. They don't say anything mean, but neither do they say the things that are needed. There are moments when someone desperately needs to hear that he is loved. We all need to be encouraged. We all need words of wisdom.

We're supposed to give people what they need. If we hold back important words because we're insecure, unaware, or just plain stingy, then that's a sin of omission.

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." (Prov. 25:11).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stealing with My Mouth

When I was selling clothes at a department store, we learned to watch out for a particular woman who frequented our store. She would see a sales clerk and start talking fast and keep at it until the clerk looked around for rescue. If the clerk started backing away, she would follow, sometimes holding onto her victim’s arm to keep him from escaping. Finally, the clerk would look to the far end of the store and make up something about how he was needed somewhere else, then would hurry away.

As soon as he left the woman alone, she would swoop up as much merchandise as she could and walk out of the store without paying for it. We never caught her in the act, but we figured out what she was up to.

It’s a bizarre reminder to us loquacious people that we need to remember how much attention we demand from others, even if we’re not trying to shoplift.

Talking too much is selfish. It demands a lot from people who are more polite than we are. And we can end up chasing people away.

Perhaps it’s not the most severe problem in the world, but consider that if I’m slow to speech, I will hurt someone’s feelings less often. My dad used to tell me, “never miss a chance to be quiet, because you can’t unsay something once it’s out.”

The woman who stole from the store reminds me that talking too much steals from others. We give more to people if we stop talking and receive what they are saying.