The Dreaded Backward Look

Exactly his words, these are not, but on Sunday morning, Jerry preached a powerful sermon in which he spoke such sentences as these:

“This escaping woman had safety within her view.”

“She was minutes away from a hellish inferno of destruction.”

“…but she looked back.”

He was referring to Lot’s wife, of course, whose story is in 19 of Genesis.

In verse 17, the angel of the Lord spoke to Lot: “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”

Verse 24: “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven.”

Verse 26: “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”

Jump to the New Testament and Jesus’ own words in Luke 17. He was teaching the second coming of Jesus, warning of problems that would arise, and examining similarities between what would be the last days, and other historical days of destruction. The three words that comprise the entire 32nd verse are profound and startling:

“Remember Lot’s wife.”

One more scripture from Jerry’s sermon is in Hebrews 10:38.

“…but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him…”

And concluding with the next verse.

“But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

I take God’s words and His admonitions seriously, having no desire to look back into the inferno of death and destruction. Rather, I rejoice that I can place myself with those who do not draw back, but who are the faithful, forward-looking, overcoming  believers!

Everyone Is A Winner in God’s Kingdom

Well, I surely have no idea who will be the winner in this scenario reported by AP, in which 50,000 scratch-off tickets were sent out–everyone of them mistakenly declared to be the winning tickets for the $1,000 grand prize. It will be interesting to see how the company handles this little problem.

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) – Everyone’s a winner after a direct-mail marketing company hired by a local car dealership mistakenly sent out 50,000 scratch-off tickets to residents – all of them declaring the ticket-holder the $1,000 grand prize winner. Just one of the tickets was supposed to be the grand prize winner.

Jeff Kohn, Roswell Honda general manager said a typographical error by Atlanta-based Force Events Direct Marketing, which printed the advertisment, had given all 50,000 scratch-off tickets grand prizes.

“Unfortunately, they missed it in the proofreading,” said Kohn, who was able to stop an estimated 20,000 direct mailers from being sent.

Kohn said the dealership is “making a full-faith effort” to investigate the mistake, which he said is “not how we portray ourselves or our community.”

In a statement, Force Events apologized “for any inconvenience this may has caused car shoppers in the Roswell market” and asked that any questions and concerns be directed to the company.

Force Events representatives are expected to be in Roswell on Thursday to sort out the mess, Kohn said.

Remainder of the story here.

Such a problem can never arise in God’s Kingdom. We’re all winners! Valid, ticket-holding winners! Jesus tells a story in the 20th chapter of Matthew in which everyone was a winner–everyone was treated the same, but some people objected. Remember this account?

1FOR THE kingdom of heaven is like the owner of an estate who went out in the morning [a]along with the dawn to hire workmen for his vineyard.

2After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3And going out about the third hour (nine o’clock), he saw others standing idle in the marketplace;

4And he said to them, You go also into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will pay you. And they went.

5He went out again about the sixth hour (noon), and the ninth hour (three o’clock) he did the same.

6And about the eleventh hour (five o’clock) he went out and found still others standing around, and said to them, Why do you stand here idle all day?

7They answered him, Because nobody has hired us. He told them, You go out into the vineyard also [b]and you will get whatever is just and fair.

8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, Call the workmen and pay them their wages, beginning with the last and ending with the first.(A)

9And those who had been hired at the eleventh hour (five o’clock) came and received a denarius each.

10Now when the first came, they supposed they would get more, but each of them also received a denarius.

11And when they received it, they grumbled at the owner of the estate,

12Saying, These [men] who came last worked no more than an hour, and yet you have made them rank with us who have borne the burden and the [c]scorching heat of the day.

13But he answered one of them, Friend, I am doing you no injustice. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?

14Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this man hired last the same as I give to you.

15Am I not permitted to do what I choose with what is mine? [Or do you begrudge my being generous?] Is your eye evil because I am good?

16So those who [now] are last will be first [then], and those who [now] are first will be last [then]. [d]For many are called, but few chosen.

Come on, everybody. Hire yourself out. Grab a tool, sow a seed, dig a furrow! Started early? Great! Coming aboard late! Wonderful! God’s wages are sure, generous and dependable. No questionable tickets! No nefarious promises! No mistakes!


My other blog is here.

For Lack of a Good Samaritan

On June 19th, 2007 I wrote a short piece about how tending to people’s spiritual needs is actually more important than caring for them physically, observing also that such spiritual ministration is much more difficult than is mere physical care. I truly believe such is the case. A news story today, though, points again to the new testament story we call the Good Samaritan, and to the physical needs of people. As was true in those days in which Jesus physically trod Galilean soil, so today do people step over and around hurting, injured human beings. It is astonishing.

This morning on a news program, I heard a discussion of this situation by a psychiatrist (I did not catch her name) who offered the following insight:

1. By 18 years of age, the average person has observed 100,000 acts of violence, through movies, television programs and video games. We have become inured to blood and gore, and sadly, many of us have developed into hardened, unfeeling people.

2. We take our cues from others; if the crowd doesn’t respond, neither do we.

3. When we are anonymous, we respond differently than if we are known in that circle. If we chance upon such a situation and we are with a friend, we are more likely to stop and give assistance.

News article from by Roxana Hegeman, Associated Press Writer

WICHITA, Kan. — As stabbing victim LaShanda Calloway lay dying on the floor of a convenience store, five shoppers, including one who stopped to take a picture of her with a cell phone, stepped over the woman, police said.

The June 23 situation, captured on the store’s surveillance video, got scant news coverage until a columnist for The Wichita Eagle disclosed the existence of the video and its contents Tuesday.

Police have refused to release the video, saying it is part of their investigation.

“It was tragic to watch,” police spokesman Gordon Bassham said Tuesday. “The fact that people were more interested in taking a picture with a cell phone and shopping for snacks rather than helping this innocent young woman is, frankly, revolting.”

The woman was stabbed during an altercation that was not part of a robbery, Bassham said. It took about two minutes for someone to call 911, he said.

Calloway, 27, died later at a hospital.

It is extremely difficult for me to imagine such a scene; I am unable to visualize anyone in a convenience store stepping over the body of a dying woman. What is wrong with us? Have we indeed become so calloused and disconnected to humanity that we have the ability to effectively block out the vision of a dying human being?

For today, I remind you of Jesus’ striking story that we call, The Good Samaritan.

” …and who is my neighbor?

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”

Luke 10:30-35


My other blog is here. 

A Richness of Mercy

To all the people in the extremely moving service yesterday, Jerry read and commented on the entire 2nd chapter of Ephesians. What elegant and stirring scripture is here recorded, what sparkling hope, what manifest glory and courage-inducing words are splendidly crafted in Paul’s writing to the church at Ephesus.

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

But listen to this!

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

Think on this next verse. Eat it, consume it, digest it.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

Ephesians 2:1-8


My other blog is here.