Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Jehovah and the Jitney

As a young pastor I fancied myself as a pastor for the youth group.  Whenever there was an activity I was driving a carload of kids to attend.  We went to snow camp.  We went to youth rallies.  Sometimes our weekly meeting required some transportation by me.

I found my joy in being accepted by high schoolers as not only the leader, but part of the group.  It's my opinion that kids take me more seriously if they see that I like to play and have a more balanced personality than they may have originally thought.

In my first church I couldn't seem to get the group started on the right foot until one of the girls in the church determined that she was going to make it work.  She had a strong character and a commanding manor.  I think she may have threatened some of her school friends, I don't really know this, but she showed me how important it was for the young people themselves to take ownership of the project.

Anyway, Bonnie's brow-beating invitations brought together 20 or more kids to the first meeting at her house.  A couple of the boys took turns leading the Bible study portion of our meetings.  Then we had refreshments and played some special games and just hung out (before that term was actually invented).  What was so remarkable was that this meeting took place on Friday nights, competing with the local basketball games.  And the kids kept coming back.  Only when I thought there was needed supplementation or that we were straying from the meat of the text did I offer my comments.  The Lord was with us.  These kids even talked about spiritual matters during the "hanging out" part of the meeting.

One of the neighbor kids who had visited the group came knocking on my door one night, asking me to tell her what made them tick.  She said she could see these kids had something she did not have, and she wanted to know what it was.  Talk about a straight line!  We talked about Jesus as I explained the gospel and she asked Christ to come into her life.

One year, coming home from a winter camp, my Rambler American stuffed with kids, we were delayed by freezing rain and snow.  This wasn't the fluffy stuff that blows and drifts like baby powder before a fan.  This was crunchy stuff that hit and stuck and froze up my windshield wipers more than once during our treacherous journey.  I stopped and relieved the wiper blades of ice formations more than once.  Here I was leaning over this slushy car, whacking the nascent glaciers off as the traffic squished by, throwing dirty slushy snow at my feet.

All I could think about is how the parents of these young people must be worried about them, and how I could get them home sooner.  Oh yeah, this was long before the day when everyone owned a cell phone.  In fact they had not yet been invented.

The final stop before heading home was to drop off the daughter of an important business man in Westfield, NJ.  My home was still 40 miles south and it was dinner time and I wanted to get home.  It seems that this family was holding a formal dinner with friends, and they invited me to stay and eat with them.  I squirmed at the invitation because although I was hungry, I could hardly be more inappropriately dressed with my dirty, wet blue jeans and sweat shirt.  The girl's father was so genuine and disarming that I did stay and sit amid these suits and ties and gowns.  He said he could always trust me to take good care of the kids, and that he really wanted me to dine with them.

We don't deserve to sit with Jesus at the marriage supper of the Lamb either.  It is only at His gracious invitation that we dare to come.  But when Jesus calls you just can't say "No".  In that case He actually takes away our filthy garments and clothes us with spotless clothing, reflective of the holiness that He drapes over every believer who heeds His call.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

9 out of 10

Nine out of 10 readers of this blog are of Mensa intelligence.  Since you are now reading this blog, you want to believe this statistic, and are willing to accept it.  Of course, I made it up out of my own fertile imagination.  It is possible that I have taken a scientific survey.  I tested 10 of my friends and found 9 of them to be so intelligent.  But, alas, I didn't even do that.  I just flat out lied.  We all know that old hack, figures don't lie, but liars can figure.

If I told you that 9 out of 10 statistics are drawn out of thin air, you might be willing to accept that because of your own experience with alleged and suspicious published statistics.  But that would simply be praying on your unfortunate anecdotal evidence.  But anecdotal is no more scientific than my fertile imagination or polemical guesswork.

I remember reading that coliform bacterium can travel through 12 sheets of toilet paper in 4 seconds.  I suspect that this is one of those phony statistics, but it's graphic image has improved my sanitary habits by a large degree.

I guess it all goes back to the truism that we tend to believe what we want to believe.  Isn't there any source of statistics that we can trust?

Even scientific statistics are subject to our skeptical scrutiny.  We were told of the danger of eating butter with all the fat content.  Now they are saying that margarine is worse for us than the butter.  We learned that artificial sweeteners are a must because of the dangers of too much sugar.  Then a study came out to show us that artificial sweeteners create formaldehyde on the brain.  We get the idea that these scientific studies draw conclusions most complimentary to the interests that are funding the study.

We seem to do best by listening to someone who really knows, and taking it on his authority.  It's good to have a PhD chemist or engineer as a friend.  He may have read both studies and can explain how there is partial truth in each camp.  He may be able to read between the lines of esoteric phraseology and tell you what the study report really means.  It's nice to hear from someone who really knows.

When you find yourself stuck in the middle of a mine field, it would be a good thing to know who drew up the map you decide to use.

And, of course, that brings me to our Lord, Jesus Christ.  He didn't have an engineering degree, but He knows.  And He is the one who said, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me."  He also said, "Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death into life." (John 5:24)

You ask me, "What are his credentials?  Why should we believe him?"  That's a fair question.  The short answer is: because he came out of the grave to prove it.  Jesus predicted His death by crucifixion and his resurrection 3 days later.  Then those who were eye witnesses gave us their dossiers.  You find them in the first four books of the New Testament.  Don't scoff until you read them.