Monday, June 25, 2012

That's a Looooong Time

21,900 days...525,600 hours...31,536,000 seconds!  That is a long time.  Those are the amount of days or hours or seconds in sixty years.  Since I am only fifty-one years old, that is longer than I have been alive.  Yesterday at Hillcrest Baptist Church, we celebrated the 60th wedding anniversary of Ken and Doris Hurst.  They were married in 1952 and have remained married through the good and bad times.  Right after they were married, Ken went to Korea to fight for his country.  They have moved one time since their first home, moving from Richmond to El Sobrante.  They raised two daughters and now have four grandchildren.  though their daughters and their daughter's families live in other states, the Hursts have stayed in this area.  They have had painful trials in their lives and have gotten on each other's nerves.  They have struggled with the demands of married life, raising children, working, serving at church and being involved in the community.  They are not superheroes, just average people.  Yet they have done something that many others with more energy and youth have failed to do...They have stayed together.  In a world which values disposable lighters, disposable diapers, disposable razors, disposable plates, and disposable marriages, the Hursts have decided to be rebels.  They have chosen to be counter-culture radicals.  They have chosen to not join the over 100 million Americans who have been divorced or are currently divorced.  They also have not chosen to join the 55+ million Americans who currently live together but are not married.  They have chosen to march to the drum beat of God rather than the drum beat of culture.  They are considered by many in our culture to be relics and outdated artifacts of days-gone-by.  

Yet they are standard bearer for those who truly want wholeness, healing and purpose.  They have honored the commitment they made to God and to each other back in 1952.  That time of faithfulness allows our lives to have consistency and purpose which is lacking in those who desire disposability or give up on commitments quickly.  It was a thrill for our church to surprise the Hursts by honoring their marriage and their faithfulness to Christ.  They are such humble servants that they would never have let us do that with their knowledge.  We had to sneak and plan without their knowledge because their focus has never been on themselves.  Whenever you are with Ken and Doris Hurst, you feel better about your self and you know you are loved passionately by them.  Please understand, I am not saying their marriage is perfect because no marriage is.  They have had their share of disagreements, quarrels and hurt feelings.  But they have stayed together!  This commitment has served as a source of encouragement and support for those attending Hillcrest Baptist Church for the past sixty years.  I count myself fortunate to have been their pastor for the past eleven years.

Ultimately, they have honored their commitment to Christ.  Their marriage was an outgrowth of that commitment.  They have stayed married because they told God they would stay married.  They have loved their children and grandchildren because they told God they would.  They have stayed faithful to their church because they told God they would.  They have served and still serve in leadership positions in the church because they told God they would.  Their lives reflect the greater commitment they made to Christ.  

We need to learn from that commitment.  We need to honor the commitments we make because we are honoring God.  Which means we should never embark on a commitment or project unless we know God is leading us into it.  If He is leading, then we are staying until the job is done.  The mark of a Christian should be the mark of faithfulness, duty and honor.  These aren't just pithy words we toss around to sound patriotic.  These are the hallmarks of someone whose life has been changed for eternity by the power of the resurrection of Jesus.  We are grateful to God for what He did (Give us eternal life), which we couldn't get on our own.  If you need a refresher on this, check out Ephesians 2:8-10.  We honor the commitments we make:  To our spouse, to our children, to our teachers, to our bosses, to our government, to our coaches, to our neighborhoods, to our clubs because we are honoring a commitment to God.

By the way, God has given us an incredible gift of eternal life.  Maybe you will live 90 years on this earth, but what is that in comparison to eternity?  Our life on earth is so fleeting and passes so quickly.  It wasn't that long ago when Ken & Doris embarked on a life together as husband and wife, with no children and an uncertain future ahead.  Now they can see their mortality and the end of their earthly lives, watching as their grandchildren grow up quickly.  Life passes faster than most of us think.  Yet God's gift of Heaven for eternity is really a looong time.  So since, He has been so generous to us, can't we be a little more generous to each other?  I pray that your life will imitate the commitments we honored in the Hursts and that this Sip will refresh your soul energizing you to do just that!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Does my skin wrinkle when wet?

Yesterday after church, Thaddeus and I spent about three hours at the pool.  It definitely felt like Summer as some of our neighbors joined us for a long time of play at the pool.  We stayed in the water for the entire three hours which caused an interesting phenomenon to happen:  Our skin wrinkled.  I have often wondered what causes this and I found two explanations.  

 #1 - Skin has two layers, epidermis (the outer layer) and dermis (the inner layer) Epidermis produces, sebum (an oily substance intended to keep water out of your skin). Extended time spent soaking in water causes sebum to rinse off. As the sebum decreases the epidermis begins to absorb water. This causes the surface area of the skin to swell. The Epidermis is tightly attached to the dermis so the epidermis compensates for the added area caused by the absorbed water by wrinkling.


#2 - There are 4 layers of epidermis -the outermost layer of which is the stratum corneum - the layer we see and feel. The stratum layer contains dead keratin cells. Extended time spent soaking in water causes the dead keratin cells to absorb water. This causes the surface area of the skin to swell. Because the epidermis is tightly attached to the dermis, the epidermis compensates for the added area caused by the absorbed water by wrinkling.

These are some pretty scientific sounding explanations.  Here's the bottom line:  Our bodies compensate for spending a vast amount of time in water.  The more we are in the water, the more our bodies have to compensate for that large amount of water.  So our environment has a dramatic effect on our bodies, which is visible but much of the change is happening below the surface of the skin.  The wrinkling is simply an outward manifestation of an inward change.

Does you skin wrinkle when you stay in the pool or the tub too long?  Yep, because God designed us that way.  I believe this is a great illustration of what happens to the follower of Christ who immerses himself too deeply in the world.  There is a minor outward manifestation which reflects a much deeper inward change.  We may still go to church, but we aren't serving.  We rarely if ever spend time in God's Word.  We become more concerned about our boss, friends or family than the opinion of God.  We justify living in a sinful situation and try to avoid dealing with it.  Inwardly, we are beginning to rot spiritually, though outwardly we are able to minimize the impact.  We may even be going through a crisis of belief, which is deeply affecting our faith, BUT rather than sharing with our church family, we just muddle through it alone.  We think our brothers and sisters in Christ would think we are failures if we actually admitted we sometimes struggled in our faith.

Romans 12:2 reminds us:  "Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the good and perfect will of God is."  The Bible reminds us that we are in process of being transformed.  The key to transformation:  Whatever we put into our minds is what we will reflect.  Hence, if we most often let the world be on our minds (i.e. the music we listen to, the TV shows/movies we want, the close friends we have, the site we go on-line, etc) then it brings an inward change with an outward manifestation.  Hence, our total lives begin to wrinkle.  However, the reverse is also true:  If we allow our minds to dwell on the things of God (i.e. daily quiet times, music we listen to, close friends we have, discussions we have, memorizing Scripture, prayer, fasting, etc.), the more our total lives will experience Galatians 5:22-23.  The fruit of the Spirit (Peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, etc.) are not goals for which we aim, but the outward manifestations of an inward change.  

So take a moment to examine your spiritual skin.  What does it look like?  What is reflected today?  Are you spending time renewing your mind in Christ or just going on with a busy life which precludes such a devotion?  May this Sip from the Well encourage you to immerse yourself in the things of Christ, which will bring a beautiful and lasting change in your life.