"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, May 19, 2008

Debt, Diet Cokes and Ticks

‘Tis the season, it seems, for me to be inundated with things that cause my focus to drift from the things of importance to the things of annoyance. My focus should remain on God and trying to live my life in a manner pleasing to Him. However, being the human I am, it is mighty hard to keep that goal clear. I guess you could almost describe me as an ADD Christian. I really want to keep myself in tune with God, but it is a difficult thing to do in the everyday world of 2008. Now, don’t you get all smug here, because I also know most of you fight the same battles as me.
Recently, my battles have been against three very tangible things. One of them is debt. Being a single guy, I often find myself battling a Lexus desire with a Gremlin pocketbook. I love electronic toys, clothes, books, and travelling, however, the checkbook doesn’t always allow for such luxuries. The evil plastic card often takes over at that point and all of a sudden, I find myself in a higher debt ratio than I want or should have. Paying off these bills, plus the rising costs of gasoline and other sundries, depletes the bank account faster than it used to. Somehow that retirement check just doesn’t go as far as it used to. In these times, what is the first thing to cut? Support for the church, missions and God’s work. It is a terrible thing to admit, but it is often true. As Christians, we are to give a portion of our earnings back to God for His work, however, when the choice is between the house note and a check to the church or other religious organization…. well, the house wins.
I also tend to have an addictive relationship with Diet Cokes. Now, in and of itself, that’s not such a terrible addiction to have, except that there is no nutrition in those cans and it takes even more money to feed my fix. As a result, I have gained unnecessary weight, spent more money than I need to and have not kept my body in the best shape by not providing the fruit juice, water or other more healthy beverages. We are told in the scripture “our bodies are the temple of God,” well, this temple is pretty fat, unhealthy and broke. I feel bad physically and then emotionally, so I know that God is not pleased with how I am keeping house for Him.
This past week, my leisure time activities seem to be primarily that of checking for ticks. The woods and privet in my backyard must be a fertile breeding ground for this horrid creatures and I think my name is on their list as a good meal. The purpose of a tick is to, well, let’s just say, they have a parasitic relationship that does a person no good, but benefits the tick greatly. Then, there is always the chance of several deadly diseases that can be transmitted to humans (and I’m sure I have all of them by now, plus a few yet to be discovered).
Where am I going with all this? I am learning that I need to keep my physical and financial life straightened out so that nothing can stand in the way of my relationship with God. Being a better steward of my finances and my health will keep my desire for God from being sucked out of me like some little parasite. These are just a couple examples from my life, but you need to examine yourself for what is keeping you from that God walk. Could it be a bad relationship that you can’t get past and forgive? Can it be pride that keeps you from letting go and trusting God for your guide? Gambling, drugs, alcohol? Anything to excess will affect you and put a barrier between you and God that becomes harder and harder to break down. Let me challenge you today to examine your life closely and be honest with what you find.
And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Monday Night Supper Club

Ernest Hemingway once said, “Every true story ends in death.” However, this true story begins with death. I have mentioned before about an unofficial group in which I participate called the Monday Night Supper Club. If truth were known, we don’t always meet on Monday nights, but sometimes Tuesdays or Thursdays and there are no official members…just kind of whoever wants to come eat is welcome. However, the core group consists of five of us that are all single adults and have known each other for quite long time.
The Monday Night Supper Club grew out of the death of one of our group’s mother. All of us being single and she with no immediate family in town, the rest of us knew it would be a difficult time of adjustment, so we went out to eat the next Monday night as a means of being together and supporting our friend through a hard time. After a few weeks, the name was coined and it began to be a regular meeting time. We began to use to time as a time for laughter and tears, for sharing stresses or our jobs and more laughter we used to time to unwind from the burdens of Mondays and life in general.
It was only a short time later that my dad died and following shortly afterward we lost the mother of another of the club. We began to look forward to the couple of hours each week as we faced the difficulties of single middle aged people with aging parents. We drew strength from each other. One other important lesson learned is that most times of difficulty can be overcome with cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, a good cup of coffee and often, words do not even need to be spoken.
This past week, the fourth member of our group lost her mother after a relatively short illness and the Supper Club will be helping to carry her along during this time. Because of illness, I was not able to be with them, but have certainly been keeping her in my thoughts and prayers and will be rejoining the group at the next opportunity.
This concept is not new to the 21st century. We, today, are supposed to carry out the work of the early church when they were encouraged to “bear one another’s burdens.” It was never a concept we thought about in the beginning, but one that we have come to realize and embrace. The people involved in the 1st century church took care of each other through sickness, health, need and prosperity. They also encouraged each other during the days of darkness and death. I’m sure if there was a It was never a concept we thought about in the beginning, but one that we have come to realize and embrace. The people involved in the 1st century church took care of each other through sickness, health, need and prosperity. They also encouraged each other during the days of darkness and death. I’m sure if there were an equivalent in 40 A.D. to cheesecake and lemon meringue pie, they would have been bringing them to the houses where friends needed it.
Over the past couple of years, I have learned that everyone needs a Monday Night Supper Club; that group of close friends that support you, cry with you, laugh with you and doesn’t care when you are at your lowest or silliest point. Life is a lonely place when you don’t have a group to stick with you during the happenings of life. I encourage all of you to help “bear the burdens of each other” as you see the need. Especially if it involves cheesecake.
So for today my friends, this has bee
n the gospel according to Jimmy.