Faith Texting 
Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 08:11 AM - Extra Christy, Radio
My niece came to visit this month. She saw me struggling to text a message and took pity on my big thumbs seeking and destroying little letters on a tiny screen like an expensive game of battleship.

For those that don't know "texting" is sending short messages to a cell phone screen. One way is "typing" with your thumbs on a cell phone where 26 letters are squeezed on 8 number keys. You repeatedly press a key until you get the letter you want. The word "faith" would be 333-2-444-8-44.

My niece, who is kind to helpless animals and clueless uncles, saw me tapping away and said, "I use T9. It saves a lot of typing." So I turned on the T9 option. And tried to type "faith" - 333-2-444-8-44 quickly producing "E" which morphed into "De" which transformed into "Fee" and ending up with "Defaghitii" which could be a low-cal pasta. Previous letters changed as I typed new ones and changed again when I tried to correct the change! My head was now spinning with my thumbs, was my phone possessed?

My niece diagnosed my trouble: "You just push each key ONCE" 3-2-4-8-4 made "E", which changed to "Fa" then finally "Faith"! The phone guessed what word I was typing and changed the previous letters to match its guess. From 10 taps to 5! My niece's reward was to have Uncle text messages DOUBLED for the rest of her visit. What a blessing!

T9 writing is faith based. You don't see the word you are typing until you are nearly finished typing it. On the way it appears to be a swirl of nonsense leading nowhere near your word goal. Yet in the end, T9 usually guesses right or lets you choose in the case of a tie. ("Good" and "Home" are equal to my phone, which I find comforting.)

Soren Kierkegaard observed that, "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards." As Christians we know the final word that God is spelling out in history: salvation. Christ came to save the world. It is hard to read that in a brutal death on the cross and the misspellings of the church and its followers through the centuries, but if my phone can find faith in my clumsy hands, how much more can God spell out in the history of the world.

Keep pressing on. God will help you get it right in the end.

Reading Backwards
from the Presbyterian Study Catechism

What do you understand by God's providence?

That God not only preserves the world, but also continually attends to it, ruling and sustaining it with wise and benevolent care. God is concerned for every creature: "The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, you satisfy the desire of every living thing" (Psalm 145:15). In particular, God provides for the world by bringing good out of evil, so that nothing evil is permitted to occur that God does not bend finally to the good. Scripture tells us, for example, how Joseph said to his brothers: "As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20).

Romans 8:28 "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."

Psalm 103:19 "The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all."

Psalm 145:17 "The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings."

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What's the Buzz? 
Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 08:14 AM - Extra Christy, Radio
I get to walk to work. It is usually a quiet time for me ending with a peaceful turn on the labyrinth at the church's Charlie's Place. One particular morning I was disturbed to hear a loud droning noise like a giant weed whacker! It was moving too. Is Yugo back with a diesel?

Then I looked up. Two Goodyear Blimps were buzzing the church building.

I was so excited by the visit, I forgot to be annoyed at the noise!

It is amazing how the same noise turned from an irritating interruption to an unexpected pleasure. The early church had a similar division of opinion about the voice of God in John 12. Some just heard thunder, others heard an angel. For some the noise was a sign to take cover from harsh weather, for others it was a message from God. The same sound brought gloomy worry to some but glorious hope to others.

There is a lot of noise in our lives. Information, Advertising, Entertainment, and Technology shakes and bellows all around us. What's that noise? Don't stop with your first impression. Look up. It may be that noise is the the sound of something wonderful from the heavens.

What Do You Hear?
"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!"

Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

Jesus said, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine.- John 12:27-30 (NIV)

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In God We Trust 
Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 06:09 PM - Extra Christy
Some folks like to offer adrenaline rushes of fear in their emails because they haven't figured out how to email coffee.

The latest sky is falling email concerns the "removal" of "In God We Trust" from the new Presidential Dollar coins. Actually, the inscription is present, it is printed on the edge of the coin along with the year and the Latin motto "e pluribus unum" (out of many--one). The addition of the name of the president and the years served cause the other text to be moved to the edge. (Interestingly the word "Liberty" is removed, replaced with an image of the Statue of Liberty. No emails about that change yet.)

There is a great animation showing the new coin at the U.S. mint web site. (Click on the "Edge Lettering" title and then spin the virtual coin around using the markers under the image.) Or you can go to a real bank and ask for one. (It will cost you a dollar!)

Jesus was interested in inscriptions on coins. When asked about taxes; he points out that since the coin had the picture of Caesar on it; it should be given to Caesar. He then tells us more than we asked: the things that have the image of God on it should be given to God. He leaves it for us to realize that according to the creation story in the Bible, human beings are "stamped" with the image of God. So if coins made by the state belong to the state, then we belong to God, our creator.

I hope you spend your time making sure people can see God inscription and image on you. You are God's coin, trust in God and spend yourself wisely.

God Stamped

"Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"

"Caesar's," they replied.

Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." - Matthew 22:17b-21 (NIV)

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

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Close to You 
Saturday, August 11, 2007, 12:30 PM - Wedding
Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage.

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33 (The Message)

Heather and Mike, you've known each other a long time, you grew up here in this church. You couldn't agree if you ever broken up as a couple because one of you maintained that the break up in 4th grade doesn't really count. Even as youths you planned to have your youth leader Sue Tinker in your wedding. So it is good you are here in the church for your wedding, for marriage is one of the best examples of the relationship of Christ and church.

The Presbyterian Church and all churches serve Christ and Christ gave up his life for the church. This union is so close that the church is called the body of Christ. You two know about closeness for is one of the strengths of your relationship, you find it easy to do things together because you genuinely like to be together as a couple. You are the first couple I've married to score 100% on communication issues. You both strongly agree that you can express your true feelings to your partner even during times of conflict. You completely trust what your partner confides in you. Others have picked up on this closeness, telling me, that you are married already. You are one and this wedding is a celebration of that oneness, that closeness that you share.

You have some tests coming up, and not the college kind you are used to. Short-term I know you wonder about your first airplane flight later today. But marriage is long term. Marriage is different that dating, a marathon compared to a 50 yard dash. Long term, the financial pressures of education and employment are a concern to both of you. Your closeness will help you, but I want to also remind you that isn't the only close relationship you have. You have your families and friends with you. Let's take a moment from looking at each other, you already have memorize each other's image, turn and look at the people gathered here today. They are not just a part of your wedding, but a part of your marriage. They are here to support and help you not just as Heather and Michael, but as a married couple, they are commitment to the health of your relationship as well. You can call on them for a listening ear in times of stress, advice during difficult decisions, and consolation and encouragement when things go wrong. Don't let your closeness close out your family and friends.

Look again at the congregation. It is a great view from up here isn't it! If you look past the individuals seated here today you can see the generations that have sat here before, praising God and loving one another in the Body of Christ the stained glass brings us back to the beginning of that close relationship of God with God's people. That is the third closeness I want to lift up today. The Closeness of God and God's People. We have a Christ who knows about the struggles of life, trying to do right and live well in an indifferent and sometimes hostile world. Christ is with us in the church universal; it is his body, his spirit unites us and makes us one. No matter how difficult the journey, God is with us in Christ, that is why we call Jesus Christ Immanuel; it means, “God with Us”. Do not let your closeness as a couple crowd out the closeness of God here among God's People gathered in churches around the world. We can be a part of your marriage as well, helping you to cherish your relationship as Christ cherishes the church gathered for worship and service.

You are in for surprises! Seat backs do not recline in the last row of the airplane is one coming up pretty quick. Others are coming as well, but no matter how bumpy the ride might be, you only have to look over to your partner to remember your closeness to the one you love. And you only have to walk into a church, Christ's body, to know you are close to God, who has loved you from birth, without break ups! and will be as close to you for eternity as you are close to each other now. Be close to each other, to your family and friends, and to God and his church. Amen.

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Devil Strip 
Wednesday, August 8, 2007, 08:41 AM - Extra Christy, Radio
The Dictionary of American Regional English has a newsletter with tales of old men talking. A kidnapper was caught because the ransom note used the term: "devil strip" to refer to the grassy area between the street and the sidewalk. You see, only people from Akron, Ohio use that term...and only one suspect was from the Rubber City. (DARE Newsletter, 2001 Vol. 4 No. 3 pp. 2-3)
I thought everyone called that patch of grass, the devil strip. Now I find it has kinder, gentler names like "tree lawn", "boulevard", "curb line", "grass plot", "parking (strip)", "parkway", and "terrace". As a child, I avoided those green blocks by the curb because, well, they were outcroppings of hell in my mind. After all in tanhe Biblical book of Job, Satan tells God he was just back from walking up and down the earth. I bet he strolled along the devil strip.

Now I work at not worrying where the devil is supposed to be and avoiding those places; but on finding where God is moving, God's way, and getting there! The devil strip gets all the news coverage. Not a day goes by when we aren't warned with a graphic logo and an hourly tease that the devil has claimed some more area in our psyche if not our yard.

Volunteering at places like Good Neighbors, participating in worship, playing along with the church youth group, going to Bible study, helping a neighbor, attending a concert, participating in a community fund raiser, being active in a club, walking the labyrinth in prayer, sending a card, visiting family and friends in homes and hospitals are all good places to go with God as God walks to and fro along the earth.

Christian folks used to be called, people of the Way. Maybe the devil strip is called that because it is the space just off the road, next to the sidewalk. If we wander from the path, get off track of the Christian walk...we are in the devil's strip, a place to put the trash before it is hauled away.

The best way to keep away from the devil, is to stay on God's way.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. - John 14:1-6 (NIV)

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