Archives

DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH: EIGHT QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF CONCERNING CHURCH FAVORITISM

I recently noticed a stone displayed on a coworker’s desk. it was a geode, which is a type of sedimentary or volcanic rock, usually rounded in shape:

Rocks - box

It brought back a long-forgotten memory of the first time I saw  this type of rock. It was many years ago in grade school, when a guest brought in a bag of them to show the class. He downplayed it pretty well. He took one out, saying, “What an ordinary rock. It’s grainy, rough, kinda like cement…who wants one?”

We went along with his assessment.

“Not me!”

“You sure you don’t want one? Don’t you think they’re pretty?”

“No way!”

Laughter ensued.

“Ok,” he said, “guess I’ll have to keep them all”.

With that, he began to cut one with a saw, saying he was just curious what it looked like on the inside.

Of course, you may know where this is going. A geode is a type of rock that has a hollow internal crevice lined with minerals. They are formed when air bubbles are trapped in volcanic rock. When rain falls on the bubble, the chemicals inside the volcanic rock are released, forming crystals inside the rock.

The results are beautiful:

Rock - small purple Rock - small gray Rock - large purple

 

What an unexpected contrast! Needless to say, we all wanted one after that.

Why am I sharing a children’s lesson? I believe it’s a message we have to keep learning, whether we’re 8 or 78 years old:

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

We see it every day in this world. People create a ranking system based on superficial criteria such as beauty, status, wardrobe, or prestige. I believe is all over our society due to evil pride, a constant desire to boost ourselves by looking down at others, not taking the time to see what may be on the inside.

It’s not easy to admit, but let’s face it. We see it in the church as well.

Yes, we as believers have the Spirit of God within us, and therefore we have the capacity to reflect God’s complete impartiality.

2 Chronicles 19:7 says, “There is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons.”

In other words, God does not show favoritism.

Yet without obedience to Him, we behave no better than anyone else. We aren’t showing God’s character when we seek out others based on what we see on the outside.

Apparently this was an issue in the early church as well. James (thought to be the brother of Christ) writes directly to the issue in his epistle:

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? (James 2:1-4)

If we are one body in Christ, shouldn’t we reflect His character?

Here are a list of questions we must ask of our church, but more importantly, to honestly ask of ourselves:

  1. Do we (I) divide ourselves (myself) socially based on social status?
  2. Is my church diverse when it comes to race and background? Do I make a point to befriend members from all walks of life?
  3. Do we (I) sit myself apart from the outcast at the end of the pew?
  4. Who do we (I) talk to at the end of a service?
  5. Are there distinct cliques in my church? Am I a part of them?
  6. Does my church resemble a fashion show more than a church gathering at times? Who am I dressing for when I go to church?
  7. Do I or church leadership favor the popular over the not-so-popular for positions of service?
  8. Do the sermons at my church (more than anything else) focus on status and riches as indicators of God’s blessing? Do I often believe that favor is measured by wealth?

Friend, God is not interested in your beauty, your wardrobe, or your bank account, no matter how little or much you possess.  I believe there will come a day when the body of Christ will truly be united, whether it is through sanctification and/or necessity. May it be sooner rather than later.

“….man looks at the outside, yet God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel  16:7)

 

 

 

A DOSE OF AMAZING!

 

moon cropped

Dear Friends,

I took this shot of the moon a couple of weeks ago, as seen through a telescope over Burnet, Texas, in  the heart of the Texas Hill Country. It’s the same moon I barely noticed back home in the urban hot mess of Houston, where the streetlights wash out the sky, and I’m usually too preoccupied to look up anyway. Now, as it hung over “God’s turf” it seemed to be coming out of the shadows and into the spotlight, a generous, beaming presence. I had to capture the view at that moment.

The Universe is amazing. I got a glimpse of the Orion Nebula (a cloud of gas and dust just below the constellation of Orion’s Belt), the birthplace of a thousand stars. Venus was so close that it overshadowed even the  brightest star on the horizon…but it was Jupiter that really blew me away. Looking at it with the naked eye, it looked like a star. However, through a telescope it was a perfect white globe, trailed by four very distinct moons, all lined up in a row. This isn’t my pic, but very close to what I saw:

Jupiter-moons-in-scope

Jupiter and its four brightest moons seen in a small telescope. Credit: Bob King

I’ve been obsessed with all things Space-y ever since.

For instance, did you know that:

A lot of what I tried to comprehend was pretty much over my head (no pun intended): The mathematical calculations of why the speed of light is always constant…The physics of interplanetary gravitational pull…The chemistry of why only a teaspoon of imploded star matter will weigh over a ton.

I’ll leave that to all of you science wizards, but I will say this…the debate between intelligent design and science comes down to origin. Christianity doesn’t reject science, we just acknowledge the One who invented it. In fact, I really don’t think that science is that much at odds with what God has revealed in His word.  I checked out what the Bible says on creation and found that science has determined what God’s Word already confirmed long ago:

On the number of stars:

 “As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured…”

(Jeremiah 33:22)

On the shape of the Earth:

“He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers…” (Isaiah 40:22)

On the free float of Earth in space:

“He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing”. (Job 26:7)

On creation made of invisible elements:

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible”.(Hebrews 11:3)

On the expanding Universe:

“…He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” (Isaiah 40:22)

The next day I woke up to a stunning and cloudless day. The Hill Country is gorgeous this time of year. The bluebonnets cover the ground like a purple carpet, and the breeze is just enough to cut through the heat. There’s a certain peace in walking through a meadow — to the tune no louder than the chirping of the birds.

IMG_0625

 IMG_0621 - Copy

IMG_0628

It’s mind-boggling to think that we are on a hanging globe, spinning like a top in this dynamic, inhabitable cosmos when our immediate surroundings can seem so serene. Yet here we are, sustained and cocooned in our little world. It seems we are oblivious in our day-to-day lives to this far greater reality. Heck, I hardly noticed the moon in the city! It’s only when we stop long enough to realize that our God is never oblivious of us that we are truly amazed.

Psalm 8:3-4 – “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

Now that’s out of this world.