MY MOM

Our pastor came up with an idea for something different for the message/sermon time on Mother’s Day weekend. He had a few staff members speak at each service telling how our mothers impacted our lives. The challenge was to do it in just five minutes. I was given the opportunity to speak in one service and below is what I said about my mom.

What I remember about my mom when I was very young is when we had friend chicken. Some of you may remember in those days when you bought chicken from the grocery story it included, in addition to the wings, also two backs.

For the longest time I thought the backs and wings were the best pieces because my mom always took them and left the other pieces to my dad, my brother, and me. I eventually realized that she took the pieces she did so we could have the legs, breasts, and thighs. My mom was unselfish.

The next thing I remember is that when I was in grade school my mom when to work in the school cafeteria. When my class and I came through the line she tried not to show me special favor, but it was so difficult for her. While in grade school I always was glad she was there. When I moved to junior high so did she; but to my shame I never was as glad to see her or as proud of her as I had been in grade school. But I do think she understood and never said anything to me about it.

While I was in grade school and junior high my dad was a problem drinker—every weekend he got drunk. But even though my mom would have been justified to kick him out, she never did. As I came to my teenage years my dad became a Christian and got his act together. I don’t think my mom ever regretted staying with him.

When I got my license and was able to buy my own used 53 Chevy my mom always had a message for me before I went out. She would say, “Just one word Bobby, be careful.” I knew what she meant, but I could not help saying, “Mom, be careful is two words.” Like many mothers, my mom worried a lot about both my older brother and me; and about my dad. I guess it goes with having that role.

When my dad was diagnosed with leukemia my mom took great care of him. He passed a few years before she did and took it hard. She lived in Ohio and we lived in California. When I think about it I’m sorry my children did not have more time around my parents, and I’m still sad I was not able to spend time with her during her last few years after my dad’s death.

My mom wasn’t perfect by any means, but she was a wonderful mother through whom God took care of me, loved me, and blessed me.

And on this Mother’s Day I again say thanks to her and to Him.

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DIFFERENT THINGS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE

Some readers will remember the song “Happiness Is” in which after citing a variety of specifics for select people, the chorus affirms it is “Different things to different people.” Our own experience no doubt confirms the truth of the song’s premise.

I’ve been thinking about another word (in addition to happiness) that also means different things to different people. And not just one word, but several.

What brought it to mind was my quoting of Bruce Metzger in my Bible class and a student’s suggestion that he was one of my favorite professors. As I left the classroom I thought, “What a privilege it was for me to take several classes with such a brilliant, well-known, and gracious New Testament scholar.”

The word, of course, that means different things to different people today is privilege. I looked up a dictionary definition of privilege and read that it was “a special right or advantage granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.” That wasn’t my definition as I was using the word.

Then I looked up the word lucky and read that among other thing it means “fortunate, favored, charmed, fluky, and accidental.” In terms of those choices, I would agree I was fortunate (lucky) to study under Bruce Metzger—I don’t think it was accidental.

The third word, and perhaps the best word, to describe my experience with Bruce Metzger is one of the words included in defining lucky: blessed. One dictionary definition of blessing is “a special favor, mercy, or benefit.” My favorite definition suggests a blessing is “a favor or gift bestowed by God.”

As I understand and use the words I don’t think I have been or am privileged, but I consider many of the opportunities and experiences I have enjoyed as privileges. I wouldn’t necessarily use the word lucky to describe these things, but neither would I be upset if someone suggested I have been lucky. If pushed to be precise in describing my life experiences I would say I have been richly blessed by God and enjoyed many blessings from him.

The words privilege, privileged, lucky, blessed, and blessings all mean different things to different people. The point is that we all have been on the receiving end in many ways, haven’t we?

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MOST DIFFICULT?

As I wrap up my first year of teaching the Bible at Amarillo High School I’ve been preparing what to say in coming to the Bible’s last book.

This will not be the first time I have taught about the Book of Revelation, but a couple of weeks ago I purchased a book about it that was highly recommended and offers some new insights and twists for me.

One thing the author said that got my attention is that Revelation is the most difficult book in the Bible to interpret and understand. You may or may not agree, but I certainly do; and if we survey the many different interpretations and understandings, we have to conclude it is complicated.

I could not agree more with what Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart say in their book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: “It seems necessary to say at the outset no one should approach Revelation without a proper degree of humility!” Yet many interpreters think they have it all figured out.

My sense is that none of us knows exactly what everything in the book means, but I think that is part of the author’s intention. While written late in the first century, Revelation is meant to be read by and applicable to all believers until Jesus comes again. Contrary to what many suggest, I do not believe Revelation’s purpose is to give us a timeline and details of the future. Or as one author phrases it, an “advance DVD of the end of the world.”

Rather than telling us about when and what will happen at the end of time, the purpose of the book of Revelation is to give Christians warning, encouragement, hope, confidence, and comfort in whatever time they live.

One thing the book tells us is that things are bad and they are going to get worse. Revelation, of course, is not the only book in the Bible that tells us that.

A second thing the book tells us is that God is still on his throne. Even though it may appear that evil is dominating, God is still in charge.

Third, since God is still in charge, believers need to remain faithful. Even in the face of suffering and persecution, the call to followers of Jesus in Revelation is to maintain their faith.

Finally, the book of Revelation tells readers that in the end God wins. And if God wins, those who have remained faithful to the Lord also win.

Obviously there is a great deal more that can and should be said about the final book in the New Testament. But hopefully these few words about this sometimes strange and most difficult book will stimulate your thinking.

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