Eggs in One Basket

So we’ve been attending one church for the last few weeks. The songs are alright, the preaching is pretty good, but I’m not so sure about the chorus-esque nature of the band. Still, I can overlook that fault more easily than some of the faults of the churches I’ve been to in the past. I noticed that there was a small table set to the right of the altar with a bowl, a bag of flour, and a carton of eggs. Towards the end of the sermon, the pastor used these items for a demonstation talking about a specific issue he had seen with his church.

Yellow cake with chocolate icing is his favorite dessert. (I think nobody has introduced him to the delights of german chocolate cake, we’ll have to remember to do that at some point.) If he were to make one right now, he would have a problem. He would have way too much of certain ingredients and not enough of the others. In a real sense, the church had put all of its eggs in one basket. He pointed out how most of the small groups were quite similar. While his main point was that there was a need for discipleship, another set of verses were brought to my own mind:

14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” – 1 Corinthians 12:14-20

Even though Paul is writing how spiritual gifts are distributed to the church body as a whole, I can’t help but wonder how it does not apply to a single church. If we all were feet, then there is nobody to give a hand to others. If we were all hands, how would we go anywhere? If we were all ears, how could we speak a word in response? If we were all eyes, how could we hear a request for help? So, I should think, God chose people to do specific actions and be certain parts the body. If we can’t make a cake with too much eggs and flour and not enough sugar or vanilla, then we certainly can’t be the body of christ if we have too many eyes and feet and not enough hands or ears. Once we make up the whole body of christ we can use the gifts he has given us to reach out to the communties in which we live.

Of course, this talk of cake and bodies (cellular peptide cake with mint frosting anybody?) is only an illustration of the issue at large. We who are all apart of the body have a job to do, and that is not just showing up on Sundays. It’s showing up everyday to worship him with the way we fix cars, build houses, and serve fast food. For we might unknowingly provide a service that honors him – fixing a car that will be used to take kids to a conference where some of them will be saved, building a house that might one day be the start of a church that reaches out to even the most closed-minded nations, or feeding a hungry body and soul who thirsts for the truth. What we do in His name, we do for Him and possibly even to Him. So, what are you?

Fight like a Christian

Sometimes Christians stand opposed. We choose where to draw the line and how to hold it. Our weapons are our words and our actions, but we do not turn to guns or knives. Sometimes they’re sleeping on the job. While others get away with murder, we shut ourselves away from the world like a hibernating bear. Lately, we’ve decided to confront various issues. The question is, are we fighting according to our preferences or the rules as written in the Bible?

Matthew 5:38-42, ” 38“You have heard that it
was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.
If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue
you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go
one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give
to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to
borrow from you.”

Okay, so if we’re not likely to get into a fist-fight, what about debate? Does the Bible really tell us how to answer others we don’t agree with?

Colossians 4:2-6, “2Devote yourselves to
prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door
for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for
which I am in chains. 4Pray
that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders;
make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

“Evil person” is a pretty big category. Sometimes we might think we’re looking at somebody who is pure evil. It doesn’t matter if they bash our faces in or call us every bad name under the sun, we are not to respond in kind. So, are you tough enough to fight like a Christian?

Safety First, Common Sense Last

Over the last few weeks we have been having trouble coming up with decent ceiling fans. First we chose some that were too small. Then we chose some that didn’t use the standard bulb. We called up the store and this was the colorful story: “Some guy put 110 watt bulbs into each of the ceiling fan sockets and nearly electrocuted himself and burned his house down in the process… so the government banned the use of standard bulbs for ceiling fans. It’s in some energy efficiency law.”
Actually, I could find no evidence to support the story one way or another. I did, however, come across a law that was passed in 2005 that cleared things up:
“(2)(A) Ceiling fan light kits with medium screw base sockets
manufactured on or after January 1, 2007, shall be packaged with screw-

based lamps to fill all screw base sockets.
``(B) The screw-based lamps required under subparagraph (A) shall--
``(i) meet the Energy Star Program Requirements for Compact
Fluorescent Lamps, version 3.0, issued by the Department of
Energy; or
``(ii) use light sources other than compact fluorescent
lamps that have lumens per watt performance at least equivalent
to comparably configured compact fluorescent lamps meeting the
Energy Star Program Requirements described in clause (i).
"
For those of us who aren’t legally savvy, this law says that all ceilings must be sold with bulbs included. The companies doing the selling can choose between CFL bulbs or anything else so long as it meets ESP Requirements. Tough choice. CFL Bulbs are a bio-hazard. They don’t dim very well. The ones that do are very expensive. In the long run, it would cost more to include CFL bulbs than to make the customer buy them. On the other hand, these new candelabra bulbs are incandescent. They have a screw base, so they would technically be compliant with this new law. The thing is, they not nearly as efficient as the CFL bulbs. So in an effort to make things more energy efficient in general and to prevent us from electrocuting ourselves, our new bulbs are less energy efficient overall. This law, was tacked onto an energy reform policy.
Several years ago, traditional incandescent light bulbs were phased out. Their design was virtually identical to the ones that were first created by Thomas Edison over seventy years ago. The CFLs that replaced them have now virtually been phased out in newer products in the name of energy efficiency. The candelabra base bulbs are but the newest form of bulbs and I pray that they have an equally short duration. What really irks me though, isn’t the fact that we’ve been nudged away from choosing for ourselves which we want. It is that we don’t have a choice. This is how it is now. We can’t read the warning on the boxes that say “Use 60-watt bulbs only.” We’re too unintelligent to figure out that we’re overloading the circuits. We’re like little kids who are out to harm ourselves so we need adults to watch over us and keep us safe – from ourselves. In 2005, it was the bulbs. In 2010 it was health care. I don’t think I can handle whatever it’s going to be in 2015.

Boiling Rights

The United States Constitution says that some of our rights come from our Creator and that they can’t be taken away. Among them are the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now if you can convince the population that their rights actually come from legal courts, then those same machinations that have granted those rights can also take them away. It sounds like something from a science fiction episode, but certain rights are in legal hot water and the temperature is rising. Why should we care if the rights of people we don’t agree with are in peril? Because if we let others’ rights slip away, there will be nobody able or willing to protect our own rights, should the need ever arise.
What if these rights conflict with our beliefs? Do we protect their rights at the cost of our own moral discomfort? On the one hand, rights are important. We would never let anything happen to our right to say what we want, worship God in our own way, or not incriminate ourselves. There are some rights that are in question, some people would rather watch the right to bear arms go up in flames than to defend it, for instance. The thing is that the groups who are challenging our rights are also challenging the Creator of our rights. The good thing is that He can fight for Himself, but what are we to do? In the name of fairness help them who are under no compulsion to return the favor? What do we gain by standing in the way of others? What do we gain by being secure in our morals, but less free overall?

Truely Free

Do we take our freedom for granted? Would we miss it if it were suddenly gone? Is it more important to choose your career or what you will wear? Is it worth it to be safe but not be allowed to say certain things? Should you have full freedoms or limited freedoms? Which freedoms would you give up? Which freedoms would you fight for until the bitter end?

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We
didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought
for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we
will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s
children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. – Ronald Reagan

What if your pastor suddenly introduced new rules – you must pay the ten percent tithe, women must dress modestly, not wear jewelry, style their hair, or speak out unless spoken to. Men must attend the men’s breakfast. Children must obey their parents. What freedoms are worth fighting for in the church? Which ones would you allow to be taken away? Would you leave the church? Force out the pastor? Quit the religion all-together?

I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of
the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those
in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. – James Madison

You see, we are all of the “It’s not my business” mindset. The problem is that when others lose their freedoms, you are only a step away from losing your own. To be truely free in your life and religion, you have to fight for the freedom of every person who is also alive and believes. If you love freedom, it is your business to defend it. Are you truely free?

Three Updates

(It looks like it is going to take me a total of six flights to get from here to there at a cost of $850. I can pay for half of that amount right now, and I have a source of money for the other half later. The date for the event is the last two weeks of October, so I have some time. I can’t make reservations for the flights now because the date isn’t concrete and there is a factor that could push back the event days and weeks and months even. I can’t make the reservations last minute either, because half of the seats are already taken and it could potentially double the cost. Apparently, there really isn’t an option to make a reservation without actually buying the ticket. I want to go down there and have a great time, but I don’t want to cut the visit too short or overstay my welcome either. So pray that everything works without so much as a hitch.)

(While I’m thinking on it, we’ve decided to put linoleum on the kitchen floor. Now we’re going to have to take down the cabinets, put them in the middle of the living room, clean the floor thoroughly and lay it down. We have primer on the living room walls and one coat of the finish color on the short hallway, so we have our work cut out for us. We were looking for a blue-green-gray color for the remaining areas, namely the entry, bedrooms, and closets. We tried Hot Springs, but the color just wasn’t close enough. We liked Woodlawn Silver Brook, but it was much lighter and bluer than we would have liked. I sort of feel sorry for the Lowes paint people, we’ve had to go back twice to re-tint the colors of the paint and the primer, but it was all sorted out.)

(I’ve been up to the usual, that and baking chocolate chip cookies. Mmmm cookies.)

Caution: I’m in a cranky mood

Not long ago, there was a post somewhere about somebody who had caught themselves being cranky. They talked about how they were impatient and needed to relax a little. I was hoping for a breakdown of the condition and some suggestions on how to deal with unduly cranky individuals. It looks like I’ll have to do my own homework.

Crankiness runs more so in one side of my family than the other. My grandfather was a champion of being cranky. He was hard to please especially if you weren’t getting something done the way that he wanted it done. He passed down that lovely temperament to more than one of his sons. Sometimes it makes us a little cranky to have deal with somebody in the mood to be cranky. Which only serves to continue the issues at the heart of the problem. Some factors that induce a cranky mood include: discomfort, disappointment, lack of sleep, and hunger.

Discomfort – Usually a result of not feeling well and not ill-fitting shoes. The easiest way to combat that is to make every effort to help a cranky person be comfortable, but if they are in a fault-finding mood then there really isn’t any way to please them no matter what you do.
Disappointment – Usually a problem with themselves or a child that has let them down. There really isn’t much you can do in either case if you aren’t the person he or she is disappointed in, maybe just listen. If you are, on the other hand, anything you do to make things better might actually make things worse in the short term. I’d say give them some space and time to cool off.
Lack of sleep – I know that the cranky person I have to deal with often stays up late. You can’t send a grown individual to bed early, though it would be nice if there was an invention that would do the job for me. If you can get into a healthy sleep routine, it would surprise you to see the subtle changes in energy and mood. Then again, I have heard that a song called the Goldberg Variations was created for the sole purpose of putting people to sleep, that is, if you can stand a full hour of classical music.
Hunger – Like the snicker’s commercials, you just not you when you’re hungry. You’re not somebody else, either. You’re just cranky. Feed a cranky soul with a good meal if they haven’t eaten in awhile.

Be prepared however, dealing with a cranky person can affect your mood. They can find fault with the littlest things and go into complain mode like no other. Sometimes things like blood pressure being too high can worsen an already cranky individual. Look, if you have to deal with cranky people, you already know what that’s like. Be patient. Figure out what works and stick with it.