Friday, September 27, 2019

September 21-27
A Community of Servants

Dear Paul:

While I appreciate your desire to help the poor in Jerusalem, I believe that some of your methods in doing this may be setting a bad example.

I refer, of course, to your statement that, when you arrive here in Corinth:
[You] will give letters of recommendation to the men [we] approve and send them them with [our] gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for [you] to go also, they will accompany [you].
Unfortunately, your words assume that some sort of oversight is needed, i.e. that the people who give should make sure their money actually goes where you said it would.

Clearly, this is not acceptable. You are the Lord's servant, after all, and you are doing the Lord's work; that is why it is His job to hold you accountable for what happens to the money we give.

In writing what you did, in other words, you have tried to apply worldly standards of openness and accountability to something that should be a matter of faith . . . 

And I shudder to think of what might happen if your methods caught on in our church.

Sincerely yours,

Friday, September 20, 2019

September 14-20
To Love Mercy

I know, I know . . . 

Some people are just down on their luck

I know that. 

And some people deserve my help. I know that too.

But what about those who don't?
I mean, let's be honest; some people got themselves into the mess they're in.
  • They didn't exercise and eat right -- and that's why they're sick.
  • They didn't work hard and stay in school -- and that's why they don't have a job.
  • And while everybody deserves a second chance, some of these people are on their third, fourth, fifth, or even their zillionth chance . . . and don't get me started on the ones who have just given up!
In short, I don't have a problem with generosity -- not when people deserve it.

No, what bothers me is this idea of mercy.

Monday, September 09, 2019

September 7-13, 2019
Living the Advent Hope

And I saw a great crowd whom no one could number, stretched out before the throne of God. And books were opened, and judgment was set.

But even as this was happening a remnant did push their way to the front. And they did lament and complain and say unto anyone who would listen, “This is not the way it is supposed to be!”

And the Lord said, “What?”

And they did open their books, and they did unroll their charts, and they did set up their PowerPoint presentations, so that one and all might understand what should have been.

“For there should have been a Great Time of Trouble Such as Never Was Since the World Began,” they did say, being careful to capitalize properly. “And only after that should the end have come. But lo, the Great Time of Trouble did not take place as we had predicted – and that is why we were sore amazed at your return.”

And the Lord did scratch His head and say, “So what do you call the Twentieth Century?”

And they did reply and say, “What?”

“The Twentieth Century – you remember it, I’m sure. More people died of war, famine, and disease in that century than any other. In fact, more died of these things during that century than just about all the rest of history put together. And if that doesn’t count as a Great Time of Trouble, then I don’t know what does.”

And at that, the remnant did look somewhat embarassed, and its members did say, “We hope that thou dost not hold it against us, that we did not realize this was going on . . . for we did live in a place where none of these things took place, and we did miss out on the suffering of that time. In short, it would seem that this particular prophecy did not apply to us.”

“I guess not,” said the Lord. “But there is another one that does: ‘For I was hungry . . .’”

reprinted from
September 22, 2005

Thursday, September 05, 2019

August 31-September 6, 2019


Not interested.

And yes, I've read Paul's letter -- all that stuff about collecting an offering for our poor, starving brothers and sisters back there in Palestine . . .

But unlike Paul, I've never been there; I don't know these people. And when it comes to them being our "brothers and sisters" . . . 

Well, I know what they used to say about Gentiles like me. (And even after the Jerusalem Council, I'll bet that some of them still say it!)

No, we've got enough poor of our own; we've got enough people right here in Corinth that need our help.

And sure, I can understand why Paul wants to "make nice" with those believers in Jerusalem . . . 

But why should I help?

I mean, what have people like them ever done for me?