Sunday, August 31, 2014

Christian Tattoos?

Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of attending the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with my aunt and cousin. As volunteers, we arrived very early and the arena’s immensity stunned me. All I could say was, “Lord Jesus, fill this place with Your Spirit.”

After receiving our assignments, people began filling the seats. Soon the entertainment started with music of every genre, mostly appealing to the younger crowd. There was Rap, Grunge, Alternative, etc, and for us ole-folk, earplugs.

What a joy to see the kids having such a great time moving to the music of these Christian artists and then intently listening to their testimony. Each artist gave details of their life and the lies they believed until someone introduced them to Jesus. And as He does with everyone who calls upon His name to repent, believe, and receive Him as Savior and Lord, Jesus turned their lives around. They are new creations, who now sing for Him. Each evening, Jesus Christ was lifted up, Almighty God was glorified, and Franklin Graham had not yet taken the stage.

Reports of seven hundred teens going forward on Saturday night blew us all away. Adults and teens alike came forward to speak with counselors Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Nevertheless, with events like this, I’m always concerned about sincerity. To this day, I pray every seeker found Jesus, their conversion was true, and the seed of the Word of God fell on good soil, so the enemy cannot snatch it.

However, sitting at breakfast on Sunday morning my cousin posed a question. She said, “Each artist and musician seemed tattooed to the hilt. How does that jive with Scripture when it says, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:28)
 
Tattoos - www.wikipedia.org
Remembering the tattoos I observed, clearly, these artists acquired this “ink” after they came to know Jesus. The only thing that came to mind was how Paul said in I Corinthians 9:22, “…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Paul was saying he tried to fit in, so those to whom he witnessed would hear the gospel and not reject it, because of his appearance.

I wondered would the tattooed crowd listen to me if I tried to witness? Probably not. But, would they listen to someone sporting tattoos? Possibly.

I didn’t have a good answer, but I knew someone who would. Therefore, I asked the Lord, “Since it seems like disobedience, how does one justify a tattoo when obtained after salvation?”

Incidentally, as I read the miscellaneous laws in Leviticus 19, I found some very curious, especially verse 27. This verse before the mention of tattoos says, “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard."


But, a clean-shaven man with shorter hair is appealing in our culture.

So, since I’m still waiting for a clear answer from the Lord, I will pose the question to you. What are your opinions about tattoos and how do we reconcile these verses with the world in which we live?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Lord of Hosts Is His Name


On a warm summer night, darkness creates a quiet calmness. Chipping tree frogs and crickets break the silence and distant stars sparkle like diamonds on black velvet. “The heavens declare the glory of God…” says the Psalmist, and my breath catches, suddenly comprehending how small I am and how great is our God!

In these moments, I understand King David’s proclamation, “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God… So let Your name be magnified forever saying The Lord of hosts is the God of Israel…”  Jeremiah agrees, “Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and stars for a light by night…the Lord of hosts is His name.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Has God Made You Laugh?


       Have there been things in your life you never thought would take place, because you prayed and prayed, but nothing changed? When you began this quest, did you cling to Psalm 37:4’s promise of when we delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart, only to realize His answer was no or not now? Did you pout and get angry or take matters into your own hands? Did your solution backfire or did you finally accept things as they were?

       Imagine Sarah, Abraham’s wife, would answer with a resounding “Yes”, considering the years of praying for God to open her womb. Each month her prayer and anticipation, just to experience great disappointment and pain when conception did not take place. Month after month, year after year, the same thing; after a while it can make you a bit numb and desperate. Finally, as a last resort, Sarah suggested something despicable; something I believe, she would never have agreed to under any other circumstances. It was a huge sacrifice, but she could see no other way for God to fulfill His promise. Sarah gave her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham “…to be his wife…So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived.”

       Up to this point, no one knew whose body had malfunctioned. Now there was no doubt, When Hagar “… saw that she had conceived, her mistress [Sarah] became despised in her eyes.” (Gen. 16) Sarah thought this solution would make her happy, but it didn’t. It only caused more pain.

       However, after fourteen more years of waiting, God did something so wonderful, so amazing, that she just had to laugh. At ninety years old, “…Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken…Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, ‘God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.’” (Gen. 21:1-6) Sarah prayed and trusted God (Heb. 11:11), but I think she was as shocked as anyone was, when it actually happened. That is why all she could do was laugh.

       Now, back to your unanswered prayer. God had a set time for the miracle He promised Sarah and He has a set time for you. For me, it was twenty-three years. God’s promise came in the Jr. High school parking lot while I was praying and waiting to see if my daughter, Lorrie, had made it for seventh grade cheerleader. I was so nervous waiting, so I opened my little NIV Bible. God gave Psalm 1:3 as a promise, “He [she] is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” When Lorrie came out wearing her cheerleading uniform, I thanked and praised for His fulfilled promise.

       However, as life goes, this joy was short lived. Many struggles ensued over the years and the fruit seemed stifled in her life. But, with intermittent tears, I kept praying and believing, especially during our knock-down, drag-out fights. During that time, I’ve watched how He has helped her grow not only into a beautiful wife and mother, but in Him. I was completely satisfied, the desires of my heart realized, and I wouldn’t have asked for more.

       But, we have a God “…Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Eph. 3:20)

       And, God wasn’t finished with Lorrie. She had more fruit to bear. So, a few years ago, after volunteering at her children’s Elementary School, Lorrie decided she wanted to be a Teacher’s Aide.  Researching the subject, Lorrie found she must pass a test to become licensed, before she could apply at any school.

       My reaction? I tried to talk her out of it and when that didn’t work, I started to pray, “Lord, change her mind!” However, God immediately rebuked me saying, “Do you think I can’t do this?” Shame-faced I said, “No Lord, I know all things are possible with You. Help me to trust.” He then reminded me of that day in the parking lot and confirmed, this was Lorrie’s set time.

       Through one miraculous event after another, I have watched God’s hand with utter amazement and I just have to laugh. On the day of Lorrie’s ParaPro Assessment Test, He gave me Joel 2:25, “I will restore the years the…locusts have eaten…” She passed with flying-colors, got licensed, finger printed, and hired.

       God is at work in your life too. Keep praying, trusting, and watching for His amazing hand.
He will make you laugh!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What's Gonna Get You Through?


     Sometimes I feel as though I’m dog-paddling in the water of life, just barely keeping my head above the surface. Do you ever feel this way?

     If so, then you know how hard it is to maintain our closeness with God. But we must, because He is the Source of our strength (Psalm 27:1). He will bring us through.

     In this time of treading water, I need the hope and transformation Ezekiel 47:1-12 conveys:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Letter of Christ

www.wikipedia.org
In this very busy digital age, we have all but lost the art of letter writing. Gone are the days of the eloquent handwritten letter with its etiquette and style. But here to stay are emails, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and all the others.
Amedeo Momo Simonetti
www.wikipedia.org

For years, personal letters became keepsakes; tangible and identifiable items straight from the heart of a loved one, perhaps many miles from home. Just by observing the handwriting, the reader could recognize the writer and almost feel their presence. And no matter how many times they reread the letter, the feeling was the same.

I realize it is much faster to shoot out an email, post on Facebook, tweet, or text, and receive almost immediate gratification, but it’s not the same. Our busyness and time constraints necessitate this mode of communication. Yet, when someone does take the time to hand-write a letter or card, it somehow feels more special and so do we.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Let's Break Free - Part 3

The blinding stream of light swept across the courtyard. It wouldn’t return for another five minutes, I had it timed perfectly. Lying flat on my belly, head raised, forearms in position and toes dug in, I began an army-crawl across the compound. Inching toward a hole in the wall, something grabbed my ankle chains. I kicked to break free, but to no avail. Pain shot through my arms as I lugged my body toward that hole. Freedom was twenty yards away, but this thing held me back. With each pull forward, I’d be yanked back two.

“Let me go!” I whisper-shouted.

“No way!” it cackled.

“I’m not guilty! I’m innocent I tell you. I must break free!”

“You can’t, you will never be free!”

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Let's Break Free - Part 2

American Flags - www.wikipedia.org
As we begin our second week of breaking free, consider your initial reaction to the thought of a physical, emotional, or spiritual prison. Did you think it too harsh an analogy, or did you have an epiphany and say, “Yes, that’s exactly the way I feel”?

Last time, we focused on physical prisons constructed of materials beyond our control. This time, we are discussing an emotional penitentiary built by someone else:  A verbally abusive spouse, a domineering friend or family member, a child’s drug addiction, etc.

Many factors can cause emotional incarceration and we may feel these are also beyond our control, but are they? Although we cannot really control another person, or how they treat us, we can do something about our reaction and emotions. So, what can we do?