Monthly Archives: March 2015

When the Son Rises, It’s Time to Praise Him!

crowing rooster

Until it became obvious to me at our community’s Easter sunrise service a few years ago, I had no idea the population of my town included so many roosters.

Or maybe there aren’t that many. Maybe we have just one or two who’ve been granted the gift of uncommon volume and unflagging energy.

In any case, early on that particular Easter morning, as we stood outside near the tennis courts in the park praising God in our annual Community Easter Sunrise Service, the human worshipers there assembled were not the only ones lifting their voices. So were the local roosters!

I assume those good birds lift their voices every morning at about that time, though I’m not usually out and about to hear it. But they were certainly in fine form that Sunday!

If some way-too-buttoned-up, nay-saying, kill-joy of a rooster was standing lock-jawed by the fence, sullenly and silently deriding his loudly-crowing compadres for their voluminous joy, we certainly weren’t aware of it. I doubt you could actually find a rooster of that depressive and depressing variety. Roosters know better! When the sun comes up, it’s time to crow! And I thank God for humans who know that when the Son rises, it’s time to praise him!

Unfortunately, whenever praises resound, if you look around (and I hope you don’t—I hope you’re too busy praising the Lord yourself to notice), you’ll almost always find one or two thin-lipped sad-sacks with calcified hearts standing around stone-cold-silent, unmoved except to hurl criticism toward others who spirits are joyful and whose hearts are warm.

That was the case way back in 2 Samuel 6 when King David, the “man after God’s own heart,” a man whose heart often overflowed with joy and praise, led the holy Ark of the Covenant back home after its long absence.

King David, filled with joy, was “leaping and dancing before the Lord,” and his sullen wife, Michal, Saul’s daughter, watched from a window and later derided him. To the day of her death, evidently, she remained sullen, joyless, and childless.

And then there was the time on that very first Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was hailed as a conquering king. Some of the Pharisees, full of themselves and the kind of toxic religion which leaves no room for God, derided those who praised the Lord. “Teacher,” they coldly whined, “rebuke your disciples!”

You remember Jesus’ famous reply, don’t you?
“I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

If you’re a child of the King, don’t forget to praise him. It would be a real shame to let roosters and rocks do all the praising!

 

 

 You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“This Baby Could Live To Be 142 Years Old”

baby 01

Time magazine recently featured not a cover girl but a cover baby. The cover proclaims, “This Baby Could Live To Be 142 Years Old.”

Hmm. He’s such a cute little kid. I find it hard to believe that the little guy could have already committed such a dastardly deed that he’d deserve the kind of fate Time seems determined to pin on him.

I’m kidding. Mostly.

But, really, though long life can be a beautiful blessing, I’m not sure 142 sounds all that appealing. (The Bible’s Methuselah, at 969, has long had my heartfelt sympathy.)

I suppose if all your eggs are stuck in this earthly basket, hanging onto the basket with knuckles white might make some sense. But you can hang on too tight. Left to themselves too long, eggs get rotten and go bad. (I remember one that made its presence known behind a couch in our house six months after an indoor Easter egg hunt.) For those who, loving this amazing gift called life, trust that the Giver has the next life more than amply covered, enough here really is enough here.

I’m in no hurry to go on, but death worries me not at all. More daunting is the act of dying itself, but I figure God’s grace for each day will be present on that one as well.

I doubt it will happen this way, but if I had my choice, I’d like to be 90-something and skiing down a beautiful mountain at the end of a great family ski trip. I’d like for onlookers reporting my demise to say, “We just don’t know what the ol’ geezer was thinking! He took the biggest ski jump of all and just before he nailed that tree he had the biggest smile on his face. And this is weird—he seemed to be singing at the top of his lungs!”

Seriously, the older I get, the more real heaven becomes to me, and the more I understand the early Christians who prayed with deep feeling, “Lord Jesus, come quickly!”

I’d love for that to happen before my next breath. Outside of the Bible, the writing of C. S. Lewis has most convinced me that if we’re thinking of heaven with any sense of loss at all, we’re mistaken.

God’s people won’t lose anything. We’ll gain everything! The true essence of everything that gives glimmers of joy here will not only be present there but glorious beyond imagination. No muted glory there. Glory full on. Beauty. Joy. Love. Laughter. Nothing God makes that is good is ever lost.

God’s people can have St. Paul’s confidence that to remain here means fruitful labor, but to go on and be with the Lord is “gain” in every way! And I think we can be sure that having a genuine hope in what is coming hereafter will always make us more useful, more hopeful, more joyful right here right now.

I hope that cover baby grows to love life and the Lord who gave him the gift. If he learns where real hope lies, he’ll have learned what counts vastly more than counting years.

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 
Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Romans 14: Wise Words for Christians in All Times

Romans 14-13

I didn’t want to write this column. It might sound political. (It is not.) And I’m not bored and needing to stick my hand into a buzz saw.     But . . .

Our community has an election coming up in May. I feel about it just like I felt about my colonoscopy. I dread it. Mostly, I dread what comes before it.

Our town is having a “local option” liquor election in May. In Texas, voters choose whether towns or counties are, regarding alcohol, dry, wet, or confusingly moist.

If you don’t live in my town, you won’t be voting on this. But I guarantee you, everyone at times gets to deal with issues just like it. Divisive issues. Issues we usually deal with so poorly that the biggest danger is not how the issue turns out; the biggest danger is how many folks turn on each other before it turns out.

For Christians, the Apostle Paul in Romans 14 gives counsel straight up that covers exactly such issues. We really should try reading it.

“Romans 14” issues are not black and white questions with easy answers: “Should I shoot my neighbor whose dog barks?” or “Should I rob a bank because I’m low on cash?” Murder and theft are not gray matters. Romans 14 issues are.

They truly are, even though folks on both extremes of such debates have a hard time seeing the gray. People feel deeply about such issues, and that’s fine. I’ve got friends, valued colleagues, and church members who feel differently about “our” election.

And that’s precisely why Paul had to deal with how we deal with such. It’s why he ordered up some good thinking to be mixed in with the deep feeling.

It’s also why Paul is often ignored and peacemakers who wander into the fuss tend to be misunderstood (often on purpose) by both sides. Derided as wishy-washy appeasers or over-starched fuddy-duddies, they can end up peppered with the buckshot fired by both armies.

In the apostle’s day, the issue was not alcohol or the strange truth that both hard-nosed teetotalers and red-nosed alcoholics can share the same problem: an unhealthy focus on alcohol. (That’s not the issue in our city either. The issue is whether or not selling it here is a good thing. The “pro” folks and the “con” folks have every right to appropriately set forth their thinking.)

The presenting issue in Romans 14 was whether or not Christians should eat meat bought in the marketplace and likely offered to an idol before it got there. The arguments Christians made pro or con were at heart the same always made, as were the temptations both sides faced.

Laser-like focus can be sharp; it can also be tunnel-vision. But obvious to anyone not already fighting is that equally committed Christian folks dealing with a Romans 14 issue can and do take differing positions. So the Apostle Paul commands, “Don’t judge each other.” Judging a brother or sister is not gray; it is sin.

The time we might spend on such issues casting doubt on each other’s motives is always better spent praying and seeking guidance to make choices we believe will honor God and be a blessing.

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 
Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Would a Miracle a Day Really Keep Doubt Away?

pillar of fire

When we’re talking about people and what they believe, is it not true to say . . .

*Most people believe what they want to believe.

*God wants us to use our minds, but facts may or may not have much to do with what some people believe.

*Seeing is not necessarily believing.

*Not having faith is not possible. Everyone believes in something. Many in our society are so desperate for a god that they bow to the most popular and pathetic god of all. Instead of worshiping other gods or God, they worship themselves.

Years ago, G. K. Chesterton made fun of skeptics who would “complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”

Not believing is not an option for anyone. We all put our faith in something or someone.

I admit that I used to make the common mistake of thinking that living by faith would be easier if God would just make his presence a little more obvious.

Maybe God could part the waters of a sea, go before us in a “pillar” of cloud or fire, shake a church sanctuary on cue at the end of a prayer, “wow” us in an obvious display of his glory! But how many miracles per month does it take to bolster “faith” lest it falter during a drought or even a dip in signs and wonders? Is “a miracle a day to keep doubt away” faith really much faith at all?

But, sunrises aside, if we could just see God’s power obviously and often at work in amazing ways that no one could miss, wouldn’t it be easier to fall down and worship in amazement and awe?

The short answer is, no, it wouldn’t.

The Israelites of old saw the plagues of God and walked out of Egypt through the miraculously parted Red Sea.

God visibly led them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Each day God fed them with his manna.

They trembled when Mount Sinai quaked with God’s very presence, but . . .

But Egypt is barely out of the rearview mirror and already they’re yawning at God, griping, and begging Aaron for a golden idol to worship.

Years later, in John 6 the crowd Jesus has recently fed shows up wanting more food. He tells them that God wants them to believe in the One sent by the Father, and they ask him to make belief easy.

“Show us a miraculous sign—something like what Moses did in the desert as he gave our ancestors manna to eat. Then we’ll believe!”

No, manna hadn’t really helped very much. Not then. And when the Bread of Life sent from heaven stands before the crowd, they want a greater, more eye-popping, sign.

So at times do we. But no sign is greater than Jesus himself. May we open our hearts to his Presence each day and believe.

 

  You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.come! It’s way short of miraculous, but it’s not that bad, either! 

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

 


The Common Cold and God’s Cure for What Ails Us

cold 01

Well, recently, despite my best efforts to keep dastardly viruses at bay, I fell to the common cold.

I’m immensely thankful for today’s medical science. But, I mean, really, it’s 2015, and the common cold is still kicking our tails?

The stats say that most adults in our land will catch four colds a year. That’s three-and-a-half more than I find acceptable.

It’s not just that I’m a wimp. Or that my colds are far, far worse than my wife’s. She gets one, feels rotten, doesn’t like it, but ploughs through. I get one—clearly a much stronger, amped up, very nearly terminal, vicious sort of virus—and, while I’m oozing mucous out of every pore in my body, I rage against the universe and wax philosophical about human suffering.

I make my living making sounds other than those connected with nose-blowing and sneezing. Preaching. Singing. A cold is a slap at my livelihood.

So what to do? Fight the enemy!

I’m no doctor, and my attorney friends tell me to tell you that the following is just me shooting the sneeze (I mean, the breeze) and is not medical advice at all.

Some of the following is advice from physician friends; some is just from my own germophobic brain. But it’s my battle plan. I like to think some of this has shortened my colds. More likely, it just gives me something to do while the cold kicks my rear for the requisite 10-14 days.

Some is preventative. Wash your hands. A lot. Buy hand sanitizer by the bucket. Keep your hands off your face. Avoid sneezers, oozers, and infectors.

When the battle is on . . .

Humidity. Humidifiers. Long showers. Hot water on the wash cloth. Your red nose behind it.

Gargle to pull the virus welcome mat out of your throat. (One smart doc says 1/2 glass water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp peroxide.) I use it whenever I see a virus coming. When it’s hit. When it’s leaving. 

Saline nasal rinse (squeeze bottle or neti pot). Nasal decongestant. (The behind-the-counter “sign for it” stuff that works.) Mucinex. Xlear nasal spray (gentle snot solvent). Industrial nasal spray (as a last resort and not much not long). Zinc lozenges (like Cold-eeze). I’ll swear they shorten/ameliorate it. Vitamin C, echinacea. (Dunno if they work. Probably won’t hurt.) Antihistamine (for vocalists, only if you must). A flood (as in a gallon a day) of water, especially if you needed antihistamine lest you suffocate.

For vocalists, if you’ve gotta sing/speak sick. Slippery elm tea (like Throat Coat Tea), Vocal Zone or other lozenges for singers, honey lozenges (avoid menthol), green tea & honey, and a slow swallow of straight honey before you sing. In concert, talk a little more, sing a little less. It is possible and sometimes necessary to sing around a cough drop. Just don’t suck it down the wrong pipe as you’re going for a high note.

Chicken soup. (Heavy on the pepper.) Fruit. A good book. Lots of sleep. Hibernation heals.

And a little laughter and perspective while you’re sniffling never hurts. We humans tend to be silly creatures. We can’t even dodge cold bugs, much less save ourselves from sin’s infection.

Thank God indeed for his Cure for what really ails us.

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! Did I mention that music is good for a cold!? Well, it won’t hurt.

 

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


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