Monthly Archives: September 2013

Bugged by Bugs

The Bible is infested with bug references.  Ironically, the praying mantis is not one of them.  Although several other insects and flying creatures are referenced.  Egypt had trouble with a plague of locust. The spies coming back from the Promised Land said they looked like grasshoppers compared to the Canaanites (as we will see– being compared to a bug is never a good thing, by the way). Then, there is this “tasty” little verse buried in Leviticus: “There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground.” (Leviticus  11:21)  For the record the author of Leviticus states that grasshoppers are fine dining and bacon is a “no no.” (Burp!). Not all is bad news toward bugs, Solomon commends the ants who though small work hard in Proverbs 30.  And according to the gospels, John the Baptist ate bugs and not bacon (obviously he read Leviticus but had never visited a Bob Evans restaurant).

 My backyard is infested with bugs too.  Mostly cicadas, chiggers and spiders. Did you know it is only the male cicadas that makes those annoying loud, shrill sounds? (Gentlemen insert your own joke here about shrill noises coming from a different gender inside your home rather than outside of your home.  Before inserting your cicada/wife joke, grab your pillow you might be sleeping on the couch tonight). Chiggers are not my friends either.  They have bitten me in places no bug should ever venture.  Karla’s sworn enemy is the spider and has been known to call the neighbor to kill a particularly large eight-legged monster that had taken up residence in our basement.  And this week, a bee bit my dog on right on the nose in our back yard.  She was not a happy puppy.  Suffice it to say, like the Egyptians during Moses’ time we’ve been saying, “No more bugs.”

 Bugs in the Bible and bugs in my backward are not the only bugs that bug me.  When people take on insect like qualities that’s even worse than a swarm of bed bugs in your king size posturepedic.  For instance, have you ever noticed how gossipers sound a lot like bumble bees just buzz, buzz, buzzing with meaningless noise.  At least bees make honey– gossipers make nothing but trouble.  Mosquitoes aren’t the only blood sucking creatures on the planet. So are those whose greed doesn’t allow them to see each person as a unique, child of God whom we are called on to help.  Instead these “skeeter quality” like people seem to only be interested in what they can get out of people. And flies aren’t the only life forms that are drawn to garbage.  I’ve known people who are obsessed to the latest scandal in Hollywood, Washington DC or even their local town or church.  When the morsels of slander or tales of  sordid misdeeds are released, they gather to the news like flies on a stinky chunk of raw meat on a hot summer day.   These folks don’t  realize that there’s more to life than the latest pile of garbage.  All of these bug like qualities are worse than any flying insect type of creature found in my back yard.

 The truth is–  all of us have the potential to have bug-like attitudes and behaviors .  So if you should find yourself slipping toward “A Bug’s Life” don’t splash on the Deep Woods Off or any other bug spray, allow the Holy Spirit to work, cleanse and free you from any of those annoying qualities and behaviors.  The Israelite spies didn’t like comparing themselves to a grasshoppers when they scouted out the Promised Land, let’s not have people comparing us to gnats, fleas or ticks rather than let them say we love like the Creator of all those flying, jumping, and creepy crawly things.

 Now let’s go out loving God and all his creatures great and small (except chiggers)!




The Trouble with being in the “International” Church of the Nazarene

My church, the Church of the Nazarene, has long made attempts to be an “International Church.”   For the record, I am very glad for those efforts.  I am glad that our mission statement as a church is “to make Christ-like disciples in the nations.” I am glad we take serious Jesus’ call to go to the ends of the earth with the Gospel message.

Whether we are truly “international” in all aspects or not is a matter of debate.  Our leaders can point out the fact that two of our highest elected officers are non-North American and both  our newly elected International Youth President (Mexican) and our newly elected Missions President (United Kingdom) are also not from the USA/Canada region.  Like a slow-moving snail could have told his slow moving turtle friend, “I think we are making progress.”

Of course, the magic number we like to tout to prove our “internationalness” is 159.  We are in 159 world areas.  That’s more countries than McDonalds (100 countries) and Walmart (a measly 27 countries) combined.  Woo Hoo!  159! 

But that’s where my problem lies.

One of those 159 world areas is Syria.  The country that is the topic of much debate in Washington DC and around the world this week.

I was in the Middle East for a conference a few years ago and some Nazarenes from Syria were there.   One of the Syrians I met on the trip was a doctor.  His business card is sitting on my desk reminding me to pray for him.  I can’t help but wonder how he has fared the last couple of years.  Is he overworked tending to the injured and dying?  Will he be safe if more bombs start to fall from the sky? Is he one of the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have fled the country?   I wonder about the children that attend the Nazarene Christian school in Damascus– how have they manage through the war?  Then of course, the best man in my wedding lives in Beirut.  The U.S. government has said US citizens should leave Lebanon just in case the fighting moves past the borders of Syria.  What will happen to him and his wife and two step daughters?

So this week as our political leaders are debating to bomb or not to bomb, I’m thinking of people– the people I’ve met and know that live in that area. People who believe like I believe– my fellow Nazarene brothers and sisters.  They have the same core values that I espouse and yet live in a far more difficult, dangerous place.

I know the plan (no matter from which side of the political divide the debater is on) is not to bomb churches or schools or innocent victims– but instead to lay waste to the mad man’s military complex that enables him to gas his own people (How nuts do you have to be to gas children?). But bombs no matter how “smart” and sophisticated are not “smart” enough and sophisticated enough.  They occasionally miss their target.  Unlike golf– with bombs there are no mulligans.  Unlike horseshoes, with bombs close isn’t good enough.  When a bomb misses its intended target usually children or other innocents die.  (This happens mainly because mad men who gas their own children also put important military targets by schools or hospitals knowing full well that innocent people will be the victims of an errant bomb). All this to say, war is never good. The decision to bomb should not be met with rejoicing and pride but rather with confession and prayer.

So if you don’t mind, while political leaders and pundits debate to bomb or not to bomb, I will be praying a lot for my fellow Nazarene brothers and sisters living in a few of those 159 world areas. I will be praying that the Prince of Peace and the One that calls us to love our enemies– would somehow win this day.  I will be praying that God’s will be done in Damascus as it is in heaven and, likewise, that God’s will be done in Washington DC as it is in heaven.  Call me naive (I like to think of it as  hope filled) but I happen to believe that God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven does not include bombs.  I will be praying for all those making decisions and all of those people that will have to live with the decisions being made this week.

Come, Lord Jesus come!





Throwing a penalty flag for “the unnecessary worship of false gods”

Please read the following disclaimer (that is, confession) before proceeding:  With the beginning of the National Football League’s season, I must confess I’ve been a Detroit Lions fan my whole life. You know I am a football fan if I publically admit to cheering for the Motor City Kitties. The Lions have never won a championship in my lifetime (LIFETIME!).  In fact, in my 49 years they have won exactly one playoff game.  And I’m still a Lions fan.  One time I was in a grocery store in Lenexa wearing a Detroit Lions T-shirt and the teenage grocery bagger (thinking he was being a smarty pants) said, “I bet you are the only person in Kansas City wearing a Detroit Lion’s shirt.”  To which I one upped him and replied, “Listen kid, I could be in Detroit and I would still be the only one wearing this shirt.”   To be a Lions fan is to be a hardcore football fan.

My confession not withstanding and with much fear, trembling and gnashing of teeth on the prospect of alienating my fellow football fan friends (how’s that for alliteration), I must confess that we (and too often that “we” is “me”) put too much emphasis on the high and holy pigskin.  Idols were not just for knuckleheaded Baal worshippers in the Old Testament.  There are plenty of idols today– and football for many is one of them.

I’m not advocating a boycott of the NFL.  I am not saying that watching or going to NFL games in sinful (well, unless you are an Oakland Raiders fan.  Ha!).  I’m not saying that anyone is going to hell because of fantasy football (25% of my fantasy football team roster are Detroit Lions.  File that bit of info under the heading:  “Some people never learn”).  All I am saying is that too often we get dangerously close to making a god out of a game.

So as we are about to embark upon another football season, I offer this caution to myself and every other starry eyed, “this-year-is-our-Super-Bowl” dreamer:  Keep God first.

Think of me as a referee  throwing a preemptive, penalty flag.  Visualize a graying Detroit Lions fan, walking to the middle of the field dressed out in a NFL referee black and white striped shirt; whistle around my neck; and speaking to a full stadium, “We have a 15 yard life penalty on #57 of the Christian team for unnecessarily worshipping a false god.  This action results in a loss of devotion to God and if it continues unabated to the pearly gates could lead to non entry.”

Throughout this football season (and every season of life) keep God in his proper place.  Do not allow a game, an activity, a hobby, a job, a person or the pursuit of money or happiness or anything else dominate your thoughts so that you no longer give proper worship, adoration, devotion, time, energy and praise to God Almighty.

Please remember: football is a game and God is God.   That is all– you may now continue viewing  Sportscenter for the latest news on Tim Tebow. Thank you.