Friday, February 26, 2010

Day three in Mexico

I am not sure if it is the time change, the amazing energy and enthusiasm or the power of the Holy Spirit but each day our group is up early and ready to go. Yesterday all of the men were up and in the kitchen by shortly after 5:00 a.m. I shouldn’t say this but we took bets on which of the women would be up and out to the dining hall first. It has become a bit of a tradition on these trips where all or most of the men are up and out while the women sleep in a few minutes longer. Of course it helps when you have people like Mark Kane, George Rezendes, and Mark Salomon cooking up big breakfasts for the group. Yesterday Michelle Chaffee took the prize. Of course Andy Scheuermann fixed the contest. After picking Michelle as the first lady to enter, he went outside until a few of the women were up and then he found a way to delay the others and get Michelle to walk through the door first.

It’s a good thing I found my cholesterol pills because bacon seems to be the comfort food of the cooks. They start cooking and the bacon begins piling up on the plate. We had pancakes the first morning here and toast and bacon. Not everyone eats what they cook, but those of us who do, are completely satisfied. At 7:40 a.m. we gather out in the courtyard to check in and do our morning devotional. There is always something to think about I’ve tried to get others to think about taking turns. Last night, for example, the devotion was a simple one. We all had a chance to reflect on where we had seen God that day. This morning I encouraged everyone to be thinking about the fact that each of us were called to be a part of this team because we had something to share. With that thought we prayed and left for El Buen Samaritano.

With a good understanding of what we were called to do, the group went right to work. I like this team because they know how to have fun. The friendly banter between Roger Mainville and Randy Sargent seems to get everyone laughing and joining in their fun. Randy has lots of multi colored shirts and Roger has plenty to say about them. Roger is the old man on the team and we get on him good about that. Every night so far, the guys have played cards. I’m not sure what they are playing but they sure make a lot of noise. They seem to be having a lot of fun too.

The walls of the restrooms at the church are going up slowly. Each cinderblock has to be laid in place with cement to bond them to the next one. The metal rods that run up through them every feet are also cemented in place to give the wall strength. The blocks are staggered and the room I starting to look like a fortress already. Michelle Chaffee, Erica Corbett and Lisa Lapointe were mixing cement and running it over to the guys. Mark and Matt Salomon were working on one side and Roger Mainville and Mark Hopkins were working on the other. Randy Sargent was cutting blocks and they had a pretty smooth operation going.

Upstairs in the church Jake Shanks, Amanda Duntz, Carol Calkins, Doreen Mainville and Melanie Scheuermann were patching and sanding again. That was a messy job. Dust was everywhere. It is almost too much for any one person to be doing for any length of time. Fortunately, most of the people know their limits and only do a bit more than they should.

We quit for lunch at 12:30 p.m. and headed back to the seminary. Lisa, Erica and Michelle ran the two miles back while the rest of us traveled by van. Today we planned to take the afternoon off. That bothered a few people because they really wanted to keep going. I tried to explain to them that we needed the break and so did the local folks. For example, Pastor Ramon works full time as a police officer on the third shift. On the days we work I understand that he skips sleep and stays with us. That means that on the full days he gets little or no sleep at all. Yet, he is so excited to be with us that he counts it as joy.

We also take the break and use that free time to get a taste of the surrounding culture. Our mission trip has at least a two fold purpose. We come to do work and to accomplish something real. We also come to get an understanding of the people and the culture in which our missionaries work. Yesterday a group went up to the mountains to one of the newer churches that Rick and Mercy work with. The La Rumorosa congregation was started by a retired pastor and it is doing quite well. We got a chance to meet the pastor and hear about his ministry. The two vans also got an hour long drive to talk with Rick in one car and Mercy in the other.

Another small group went shopping in Mexicali. We got to see the local merchants and were able to barter with the people to pick up a few souvenirs. Michelle Chaffee was amazed at a pinata store where four foot piƱatas in all shapes and sizes were hanging from the rafters and barrels of candy were placed underneath. I got three tee shirts for my girls and a mug. I almost bought a Steelers poncho but I couldn’t get the girl to come down on her price.

The group that went up the mountains got back late and missed the start of vacation Bible school but the five of us who stayed behind got there on time and enjoyed the singing. Michelle and Erica even went up front and helped with the motions on our favorite new song, “Jesus is better than Superman.” The other group did get there just in time for the classes to begin.

Although we tried to prepare for every scenario, our motto appeared to be working. “Be flexible” was our charge and for the second night in a row things did not go as planned. The kids came streaming down in two groups. The first group went to the craft table and the second group came down before the adults had cleared out of the sanctuary. So we had a balloon race in the street. We also planned a balloon tag and stomp game for the sanctuary but the kids were popping each others balloons even before we had the chance to tell them how to play the game.

In the final analysis, the kids all had fun even if things didn’t turn out quite how we planned. When we asked Alma and Ram on if they were happy with what we were doing, they replied with a great big smile and a resounding “Yes!”

We got home (can you believe I’m calling it home now?) by 7:30 p.m. and had dinner and a devotional. Michelle Chaffee gave us the thought for the night. She told us about the way she just happened to run into a candy store that had ice cream bars called devotions. Then she pointed out that this is the way God works. He guides us to the places he wants us to be.

After Michelle finished I told the group that a devotion as something you offered up to God. Then I challenged the group to look for things they could offer to God the following day and we broke up for the night.


Day Two of our Mexican Mission Trip

Traveling west always messes with people’s internal clocks. In my room, Mark Kane, Jake Shanks and I kept waking up. At one point I noticed Jake was looking at his cell phone to check the time. I thought it had to be at least 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. and I asked Jake about the time. He responded it was 3:00 a.m. We all tried to go back to sleep and slept fitfully until about 5:00 a.m. and the we got up and started the coffee and got the kitchen ready for breakfast. By 5:30 a.m. all of the men were in the kitchen and dining hall. A short while later all the ladies joined us. We had a great breakfast. Mark Kane cooked up pancakes and Mark Salomon helped with the bacon. Matt Salomon made the coffee and Mark Hopkins and Roger chipped in to make toast and wash dishes.

At 8:00 a.m. we prayed and were on or way to El Buen Samaritano. We were very happy to have the church so close to the seminary. It was a five minute commute. Rick was there to greet us. He outlined the work that needed to be done and the group jumped right on it. It was a busy day. One group began working on the bathroom walls. It required mixing cement and piling cinder blocks. It looked like it would be a quick and easy job but it was a very time consuming endeavor.
A second group went upstairs and began sanding the walls. That was a messy job. A third group went over to Alma and Ramon’s house to take care of a plumbing problem in heir bathroom. Ramo had all the tools and all the materials laid out and we got right to work. (I should say they got right to work because I did my usual thing – supervise and stay out of the way.) I actually tried to help by moving the 120 lb cement bags to Ricks truck but I cracked a finger nail and started bleeding all over the place so they told me to take it easy.

We broke for lunch at 12:30 p.m. and came back to the seminary for lunch. Verna is a great cook and we enjoyed chicken and rice. We ate with the ten seminary students and Verna. One of the students prayed in Spanish and we dug right in.
After lunch went back to the church to get in another two hours. We finished up some projects and cleaned up for Vacation Bible School. At 4:00 p.m. we headed back to the seminary to shower and prepare for the first night of Vacation Bible School.

We made our way back and the kids started rolling in. Before long their were forty kids jumping and singing and excited to be there. They welcomed us and made us feel at home. The night began a little late but before long we were singing and having fun. The funniest thing was a song that featured Jesus in a Superman costume and the lyrics saying Jesus was mightier than Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and even Barney! It was real cute.

After a half hour lesson we were in charge of a crafts and games. The kids were supposed to come in on a rotational model but as soon as they finished the lesson, chaos followed. The kids had a great time making hand prints on the banner and then pouring water into bottles. We gave that game a twist by having our team members put the bottles on their heads. The kids love it and Randy, Jake, Roger and Mark Salomon got a bath.

We had a blast and the kids touched our hearts. As Mark Hopkins put it, I came down here to work but seeing the kids and interacting with them has made the trip really special


What we did on our Mexican Mission Trip

They told her to follow the yellow brick road. Dorothy waved good bye and set off on her amazing journey. Along the way she met some interesting people before her journey came to an end. They also learned a lot about themselves and came away with amazing and wonderful insights into the gifts that each of them possessed.

At 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 23 nine of us left the First Baptist Church parking lot for our adventure to Mexicali. Randy Sargent, Mark Hopkins, Carol Calkins, Mark Kane, Erica Corbett, Michelle Chaffee, Lisa Lapointe, Mark Salomon and I sped away in the church van and my Toyota. A light snow began to fall as we got to Route 2 and sped westward. A storm was in the forecast and we hoped to get out before the snow came in earnest. Like the twister that sent Dorothy on her amazing journey to Oz, we were in the middle of a storm as we set off on our mission to Mexico.

We stopped in Colchester and met up with Jake Shanks and Amanda Duntz. They jumped in ready to join us on or adventure. We arrived at the Roncari airport parking an loaded up in the shuttle that would run us over to the airport. We met Andy and Melanie Scheuermann and Roger and Doreen Mainville at the gate and we were off to see our own wizard, the wonderful missionary partners, Rick and Mercy Barnes.

We took our seats and were off to Chicago Midway for the first leg of our journey. When we arrived there we met up with Matt Salomon who was coming in from Baltimore to join us on our trip. The whole crew was finally together. We boarded the plane and continued the journey that would take us over the great plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon and on to the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t meet up with any flying monkeys or wicked witches, but we were ready and flexible in case we did encounter anyone or anything that came along.

For the first time in three years we picked up our rental cars without incident. Three Toyota minivans were waiting for us and we were assured that the gas pedals passed muster and were safe to drive. We were off on our journey through the mountains and the desert of the California southern coast. After two and a half hours in the car, eight hours in planes and airports. At 3:35 p.m. we arrived in Calexico and had lunch/dinner at Carl Jr.s while we waited to meet Rick and Mercy. By 4:30 p.m. we were heading across the border to our home for the next seven days at the Nosostros Con Dios Seminary in Mexicali.

We had our orientation, put our things in our barracks and then headed over to El Buen Samaritano to meet with Ramon and Alma to go over what we would be doing and to deliver invitations to the kids in the neighborhood to join us at Vacation Bible School this week. Ramon and Alma were so pleased to see us. Ramon began talking about the number of projects he had planned. We were going to build the cinderblock walls around the bathrooms and then put a roof over them. He also planned to finish mudding and sanding the walls upstairs in the church. They hadn’ done very much with the upstairs addition since we left last year. If everything went well he wanted us to paint the walls too.

I found it very interesting that even though Ramon couldn’t speak any English, most of thre crew could understand what he was saying through a few key words and hand gestures. Construction seems to have a universal language of its own.

It was dark by the time Alma divided us up in teams to go around the neighborhood with fliers. We went in teams of three or four with a host from the church. I am not sure how it worked in other groups, but we went with Alma. She began by knocking on a few doors and then she encouraged us to go to the doors. Mark Hopkins, Andy Scheuermann and I were tentative at first but we went. Then Alma would jump in and explain. By the time we finished we were even saying a few words like “hello “and “good buy.” I even was able to say this is an invitation to Bible school at the church.

We finished up and then went back to the seminary and most of the group settled in for the night. A few hearty souls decided to brave the night and head out to Walmart for our first visit of the outing. We picked up a few supplies and had a good time.

A few others played cards in the dining room and were glad to be able to relax for a few minutes. By 9:00 p.m. we were all in be after a long first day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cadillac delivery

I stopped at the red light and a Cadillac pulled up next to me. There's nothing special about that. But when it pulled away I noticed the Dominos sign on the roof and I had to laugh. How many people expect to have their pizza served in a Cadillac. Now that's service.

It made me think about what God did at Calvary. He didn't send a prophet. He didn't send a priest. He came himself. It's like he came to deliver our salvation in a Cadillac. He gave us his very best.

That's cool.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Embrace the call

Imagine that you had to decide today what you were going to do about something that might change the direction of your life. What would you do? Would you hesitate and put off the decision a day or two? Would you embrace it and enjoy the adventure? Would you turn it down right away and keep going the way you are going?

The answer will be different for everyone. You may have to consider the opinion of a significant other. You may have been burned in the past and are afraid it will happen again. You may be comfortable with your life as it is.

When Jesus confronted Andrew and Simon and asked them to follow him, they accepted the call without hesitation. When Jesus met Matthew at his tax station, he left it and followed Jesus that day. James and john left their nets to follow him.

Now I know it may have been different for them because they were able to look into his eyes. But that call comes to us today through people who know and love Jesus. Then they come to us and invite us to follow him.

That call came for me when I was a boy. I'm one of the lucky ones because I've had the joy of following him my whole life. His call morphed into a call to be a pastor. I used to think that meant to serve a church and minister to a small group of people who belonged there. Over the years that has changed. As I have grown in my faith and understanding of this call to follow Christ, I now understand my call to ministry as a call to serve anyone God directs to me. Believe me, God sends a lot of people my way.

The same thing is true for you. God invites us to not only follow him, but also to reach out to others with the good news. He calls us to share our lives and our stories with the people God sends across our paths. It has always been that way. We sit at his feet for a bit and then we go out to share his grace.

Meeting Jesus changes our lives. Let me tell you from personal experience that it is a good thing. So don't hesitate if he comes knocking on your door. Embrace the opportunity and go with it.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

If I knew


If I knew it would be the last time
That I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly
and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time
that I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss
and call you back for one more.

If I knew it would be the last time
I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time,
I could spare an extra minute
to stop and say "I love you,"
instead of assuming you would KNOW I do.

If I knew it would be the last time
I would be there to share your day,
Well I'm sure you'll have so many more,
so I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there's always tomorrow
to make up for an oversight,
and we always get a second chance
to make everything just right.

There will always be another day
to say "I love you,"
And certainly there's another chance
to say our "Anything I can do?"

But just in case I might be wrong,
and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you
and I hope we never forget.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance
you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow,
why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes,
you'll surely regret the day,

That you didn't take that extra time
for a smile, a hug, or a kiss
and you were too busy to grant someone,
what turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today,
and whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them
and that you'll always hold them dear

Take time to say "I'm sorry,"
"Please forgive me," "Thank you," or "It's okay."
And if tomorrow never comes,
you'll have no regrets about today.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Look in the mirror

This is a hard hitting poem. It is kind of like looking in the mirror.

I was shocked, confused, bewildered

As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbour
Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.

'And why's everyone so quiet,
So sombre - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'


Remember...Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian
any more than standing in your garage makes you a car .

Every saint has a PAST....
Every sinner has a FUTURE!


God lives under the bed

A friend sent this to me. I don't know where it came from or if it is real. But it speaks to the essential truth of life and faith. Read it and think about it. I wish I could learn to live the simple life and see things as they are.



I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed...'

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them. I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, then returns to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.

The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child. He does not seem dissatisfied.

He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays - oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go! ' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.

His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips..

He doesn't know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others.

His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.

Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion. In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.

It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care. Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Kevin won't be surprised at all!

God has an answer

You say:'It's impossible'
God says:All things are possible
(Luke 18:27)
You say:'I'm too tired'
God says:I will give you rest
(Matthew 11:28-30)
You say:'Nobody really loves me'
God says:I love you
(John 3:16 & John 3:34 )
You say:'I can't go on'
God says:My grace is sufficient
(II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)
You say:'I can't figure things out'
God says:I will direct your steps
(Proverbs 3:5-6)
You say:'I can't do it'
God says:You can do all things
(Philippians 4:13)
You say:'I'm not able'
God says:I am able
(II Corinthians 9:8)
You say:'It's not worth it'
God says:It will be worth it
(Roman 8:28 )
You say:'I can't forgive myself'
God says:I Forgive you
(I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)
You say:'I can't manage'
God says:I will supply all your needs
(Philippians 4:19)
You say:'I'm afraid'
God says:I have not given you a spirit of fear
(II Timothy 1:7)
You say:'I'm always worried and frustrated'
God says:Cast all your cares on ME
(I Peter 5:7)
You say:'I'm not smart enough'
God says:I give you wisdom
(I Corinthians 1:30)
You say:'I feel all alone'
God says:I will never leave you or forsake you

Is it time to renew our vows?

In our Protestant Churches an installation service for a new Pastor is kind of like a wedding. All the hope and promise is there. So are the words of warning and encouragement. Both parties are asked to make a vow. Both are given responsibilities. There is music and glitz and glamor and a big feast after wards.

These thought came back to me again on Sunday afternoon as Rev. Nancy Morrow was installed as the new pastor of the Central Baptist Church in Norwich. It was a very nice service with lots of music and an upbeat, hopeful mood. It also seemed very appropriate that it was held on Valentine's Day when I thought about it later in the day. I was glad to be there.

As I was reflecting on the day this morning, I felt a little jealous. I wished there was some way we could do something like that for us here at First Baptist. I've been here twenty fifth years come June. It has been a great run for us at the First Baptist Church of Norwich. I began in 1985 and was hoping that I could last five years.

I was a young pastor right out of seminary. I was blessed with a wonderful mentor growing up. My pastor took the time to talk to me about church and taught me all about pastoring. When I went to seminary I met a pastor who was the model of integrity and I worked with him and learned from him. In my second year of seminary I was called to serve a small congregation in Charlestown, Rhode Island. I met a great pastor in a neighboring town after I had been there for a short time. He shepherded me through those first days of ministry. When I came to Norwich I was excited and ready to go.

My first sermon was entitled "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and I laid out my plan for a five year mission. I said we could reevaluate things at the end of that time. I just hoped they still wanted me when we got there.

My ministry in Norwich has now been a series of five year missions. It seems like every five years we get a chance to look back and look ahead. Life has certainly changed as we finish up our fifth mission together.

The first mission was one of discovery and getting to know the the universe together. The second mission was one of growth and exploration. I got my doctorate during those year and kept trying new things. The third mission was one of rapid advancement and colonization, if you will. We grew and brought in new members. We began expanding our sports ministries and our music ministries. We added services and tried lots of new things. The fourth mission was a time of renewing and reorganizing. We began interacting more with our community and our sister churches. The fifth five year year mission was a time of rethinking and redirecting our ministry. We began to see our mission as one of transformation. It included mission trips and a mission church emphasis.

Lori and I have been married 28 years this May and both of us have changed so much in that time. That's what happens in marriages. It happens in churches too. Maybe we need to celebrate the past this summer and have a big 25th Anniversary service where we do a re installation service. It could be like a renewal of vows. Let's invite the preacher in (ABCCONN) and do it again. Then again, maybe we don't need to do that. We don't have to do it formally but we do need to do it informally as we make that recommitment to continue to work together for the good of God's kingdom.

The truth is that whether it is in a marriage, a church relationship or a personal relationship with our Lord, it is important to continually renew your commitment to one another. We can't take each other for granted. We must remain committed to sharing the love and the grace that is part of that relationship. Too often we let our relationship to God slide when we get busy. We stop going to worship. We forget to pause and pray. We begin falling into bad habits. Before you know it we have grown apart.

Someone asked me why so many marriages fail. I told them because we stop dating and stat taking each other for granted. The same is true with God. We need to keep that spark of love and faith alive by rekindling it every day. That's the only way it will last an eternity.

So if you and God have drifted recently. Maybe it's time to renew your vows. He's waiting. It's up to you.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day


A friend sent an early "Valentine" this Feb. 14th.

For God so loVed the world,
That He GAve
His on Ly
That whosoever
Believeth In Him
Should Not perish,
But have Everlasting life."
John 3:16

Good morning

When I say good morning I mean to say:

O-ffers us His
D-evotion to

M-ake us
O-bedient and
R-eady for a
N-ew day with Him.
I-nspire others please, and
N-ever forget
G-od loves you!

The truth will set you free

I finally went to see the movie Avatar yesterday. It was a very good movie, much better than I expected from the previews. I may write about the actual movie later. Today I want to talk about the $2.50 surcharge for the movie because it was in 3-D. What is that about? When I first got the special glasses I thought it was because the quality of the glasses was so much better than they were in previous generations. There were a hard plastic. They didn't rip like the old ones. I could see why there might be an extra expense but what if you saw the movie more than once. could you get the $2.50 waived if you showed your glasses?

I was thinking about this when I approached the theater and saw the bin calling for you to return your glasses after the movie. I couldn't believe it. I had made up a rationale for the additional cost and that bin sent my reasoning right out the window. Why the extra cost if you were supposed to give the glasses back? It just didn't make sense.

I know I shouldn't say this, but I kept my glasses after the movie just so I could get my $2.50 worth. Even though they may not let me use them or give me a discount the next time I see a 3-D movie in the theater., I will now have a pair to wear at home when I rent the movie on DVD. Am I a bad person? Well that is also the subject of another day.

What I really want to talk about is the way our brain makes sense of the world. Have you ever noticed that when there is a question in your life, it needs to be answered? We are always quick to come up with some explanation. Most of us even make something up if we need to. I'll give you an example. When I was in seminary my professor told us of a former student who came to him with a question.

The new pastor had gone to his first church and had a disagreement with his Board of Deacons. They wanted him to sit behind the table and serve them as they served the congregation. The student said that he couldn't do that. It was sacrilegious. He told them that the only one who should sit behind the table was Jesus. He preferred serving them from the front of the table. That was his role as a follower of Christ.

The Deacons insisted that they had been serving communion this way for as long as they could remember and no former pastor had ever objected. So the pastor went back to his professor to get his opinion. (He really went to him to exonerate himself by getting the theological position he could bring back and support his position with. )

The professor listened to him and asked him how he arrived at this idea. The pastor then told him that he learned it at seminary. They always put Jesus in the seat of honor behind the table in the college chapel. The professor asked him who told him that. As the pastor thought about it, he said that he couldn't remember but someone must have told him that.

The professor laughed and then proceeded to tell the young pastor that the reason no one sat behind the communion table in the chapel was because the table was bolted to the wall. There was nothing theological about it at all.

That pastor simply saw a situation and made up a theological rationale for it. As I said before, we do it all the time. We take what we know and apply it to a situation. Our brain fills in the gaps. Most of the time it is harmless. But when it comes to life and death situations, we better know if what we are dealing with is the truth or a mental construct.

That's why it is so important for us as Christians to read and know our Bible. It is our foundation. We need to know what Jesus said. We need to know what was important to him. We need to understand the history of Israel and where Jesus fits into that story. We need to understand sin and what it really is. We need to know why Jesus came and what he died for. We need to know the truth because it will set us free. Jesus said that. I believe it.