NOT FOR SUNDAY ONLY, Weekly Issues, 1999
NOT FOR SUNDAY ONLY
Commentary by David Sisler
Columns from 1999
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- A CHRISTMAS CARD
- I apologize for not sending you a Christmas card. Please accept this electronic version. Be warned, however, it has no gold foil and no Holy Family with cherubic smiles or polished halos. Instead, the picture on the front is of a teen-aged girl, pregnant before marriage, drenched in sweat. She has just pushed her first born child into the cold night air of an unheated, smelly barn. The baby is still covered with afterbirth and blood
(December 25, 1999)
- A NEW JESUS FOR A NEW MILLENNIUM?
- Your assignment: update Jesus for Y2K and beyond.
(December 18, 1999)
- THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
- Thoughts on selling human eggs, beauty, and adoption.
(December 11, 1999)
- THE DESOLATION OF LONELINESS
- Loneliness expresses itself in many different ways, but none so devastating as the loneliness when God is absent.
(December 4, 1999)
- For Mary Elizabeth Sisler, life traveled full circle. Born on November 3, 1924, in the section of southern Garrett County, Maryland, known as Pleasant Valley, she was carried by her parents, O. C. and Victoria Bittinger. In mid-February, 23 years later, she started carrying me in her arms. A few days ago, I was able to return the favor.
(November 27, 1999)
- GROW UP
- Aristotle once said, "There is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man." If Aristotle is right, and personal experience indicates that he is, maturity is a hard-fought quality of life, and it has nothing to do with an individual's chronological age.
(November 20, 1999)
- LESSONS IN PRAYER, LEARNED AT THE SWITCHBOARD
- Being placed on "hold" does have its advantages.
(November 13, 1999)
- NOT OF OUR KIND
- Denominational prejudice says, with actions, if not with actual words, "We are the only ones who are going to Heaven. We are the only ones to whom God listens. In fact, if they aren't with us, they probably aren't even saved."
(November 6, 1999)
- ONCE THE TAMPERING STARTS
- If we selectively eliminate the parts of God's Word which we find personally offensive, which portions will we then trust?
(October 30, 1999)
- If silence gives consent, when does tolerance become outright approval?
(October 23, 1999)
- JESSE VENTURA WAS RIGHT — PARTLY
- If Christians were not weak, if being a Christian was not hard, why would Jesus have offered to carry our burdens?
(October 16, 1999)
- LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE
- There is no excuse to be empty-handed.
(October 9, 1999)
- OH, THAT PRAYER!
- "I pledge allegiance, to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Is that a prayer?
(October 2, 1999)
- CHRISTIAN PRODIGY?
- If you read the definition of a prodigy and see no image of yourself, welcome to the club. Is there such a thing as a "Christian" prodigy?
(September 25, 1999)
- THE MORE YOU STIR IT
- She was a country woman with a fifth grade education and the practical insight of a Ph.D. "The more you stir a manure pile," she said, "the worse it smells!" Christians did not invent stirring the pot, but we have our own perfected techniques.
(September 18, 1999)
- DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING?
- A recent newspaper insert featured testimonials from people who did not use the product. Would you be tempted to try Jesus if a similar life testimony was your only Gospel sermon?
(September 11, 1999)
- THEY'RE ONLY WORDS, RIGHT?
- "Words, words, words! I'm so sick of words! I get words all day through, first from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do?" No, Eliza, when it comes to prejudice and hatred, we can do more, a lot more.
(September 4, 1999)
- PROCTER & GAMBLE: WHEN CHRISTIANS SPREAD LIES
- Urban legends: another way Christians can give God a black eye.
(August 28, 1999)
- TOO MANY CANDLES, TOO LITTLE LOVE
- It was the only time I have attended a worship service that was rated PG-13. No one actually used that term, but at the top of the morning's printed order of worship there was a warning advising parental caution.
(August 21, 1999)
- CONFESSION: A VIRGIN AGAIN
- There is an old saying which is not in Scripture, but it has biblical weight: "confession is good for the soul." Just what does that mean? And how far should we go in "confessing our sins to one another?"
(August 14, 1999)
- "God gives us only the tests we can handle. There is nothing we cannot handle with God's help." You recognize that statement. But would it surprise you to learn that it was spoken by a 39-year-old wife and mother of 3, a physicist, lawyer, and government leader in Russia?
(August 7, 1999)
- PEACEKEEPING BEYOND KOSOVO
- Peace needs a helping hand in many parts of the world, so let's drop a few bombs. It worked so well in Kosovo.
(July 31, 1999)
- WHEN IT SOUNDS SO RIGHT
- We say a great many things which sound correct, but are not, or things we want to be correct, in spite of the fact that we know otherwise.
(July 24, 1999)
- OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES
- With all of the faith and the naivety of little children, is it any wonder that Jesus said unless we are converted and become like children we won't even see the kingdom of heaven?
(July 17, 1999)
- THE CURSE OF INDIFFERENCE
- Church people could learn a thing or two about vigilance from anti-religious vigilantes (i.e., the American Civil Liberties Union).
(July 10, 1999)
- THE RESIDUE OF GRACE
- If I'm okay, and you're okay, and neither of us is a "wretch," then how "amazing" is grace?
(July 3, 1999)
- WHAT MAKES SCHOOLS SAFE?
- We try to legislate safety. We try to legislate morality. We even try to pass laws to make it "okay" to pray in school (losing sight of the fact that it has never been unconstitutional to pray in school). But what happens if "our" side loses the next election?
(June 26, 1999)
- DOWN ON THE BOONDOCKS
- A rose is a rose is a rose. So is racism. Even when it is disguised as a comic strip.
(June 19, 1999)
- THE PHANTOM MEANCE AND THE VIRGIN BIRTH
- It was a well-promoted event, featuring a late-night premier, with incredible special effects, and a little boy about whom his mother made unusual claims.
(June 5, 1999)
- INTEGRITY IS NEVER "OVER THE EDGE"
- You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Professional wrestling promoters forgot that maxim the night Owen Hart died.
(May 29, 1999)
- SLEEPLESS NIGHTS — DROWSY FAITH
- It is easy to sleep when faith becomes the knowledge that God is in charge and in total control. When your boys are home safe, it is easy to have faith.
(May 22, 1999)
- EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE
- There has been so much meanness in our society lately. It was nice, when, if only for twenty-four hours, a few folks did more than they had to, making my week one that had more kindness and generosity than usual.
(May 15, 1999)
- CASSIE'S PARENTS
- You look in your child's room and you find letters which leave you speechless. You see your child dabbling in drugs and alcohol and witchcraft. You see your child enthralled with the idea of suicide. What do you do?
(May 8, 1999)
- Why do we do the things we do? How pure are our motives? Because mine were suspect, this is the third version of this column.
(May 1, 1999)
- ALL THINGS? EVEN THIS?
- "Christians don't really know how to interpret pain." In light of the deaths at Columbine High School, is that statement true or false?
(April 24, 1999)
- WHERE DID YOU PARK YOUR BRAINS?
- How stupid is a Christian supposed to be? Why is it that so many evangelical Christians, not cultural Christians, not church members, but people who claim a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, are consistently naive, consistently conned, and consistently stupid?
(April 17, 1999)
- CHRISTIANS BATTLE ASPARTAME WHILE MOST OF THE WORLD GOES HUNGRY
- It is the latest food fight. Some Christians are worrying about NutraSweet and Equal while most of the world has too little to eat. Is that what Jesus would do?
(April 10, 1999)
- GOOD NIGHT, IRENE
- It was one of those memories which springs to mind for no apparent reason. I was lured in by a newspaper article entitled, "Twins are making money on the Internet."
(April 3, 1999)
- MILLENNIUM HYPE — MILLENNIUM HOPE
- Are you ready for Y2K?
"There is a self-fulfilling prophecy element to this," said Jerrold M. Post, a psychology professor at George Washington University who studies crisis decision- making. "If people behave in a stable fashion, this wouldn't be a problem, but this [hoarding] does indeed become a problem because of excessive reaction."
(March 27, 1999)
- THE THIRD ROUND
- Evander Holyfield said God told him Lennox Lewis would be knocked out in the third round. What shall we say of the times we speak on God's behalf and the echoes ring hollow, or false?
(March 20, 1999)
- BLESSED ARE THE PERSECUTED
- "You are blessed," Jesus said, "when you are persecuted because of your love of me." For Russian Methodists that blessing accrued dividends to their spiritual grandchildren.
(March 13, 1999)
- HAVING IT BOTH WAYS?
- We all want to have it both ways: take frequent days off, but still have plenty of money; eat everything in sight and still wear size 34 trousers; be couch potatoes and still have abs of steel; live like hell and still go to heaven.
(March 6, 1999)
- I SURRENDER ALMOST ALL
- This year — on Ash Wednesday — I did not write out the sins of which I was repenting. I put only initials on the card, lest the eyes of an unwary worshiper stray to my list of personal misconduct and be taken aback by my catalog of corruption, my index of infamy. I did not wish to place a stumbling block into a brother's or a sister's way. The initials were safer, I felt. And easier to take back.
(February 27, 1999)
- THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: WHO NEEDS THEM?
- In America's school rooms, court rooms, and other public gathering places, the Ten Commandments may not legally be displayed. Many believe that when avenues of free religious expression, a key element in the founding of our country, were eliminated from our public places, America began a down-hill slide that seems to have no stopping place.
(February 20, 1999)
- PAY DAY SOMEDAY
- One of the greatest Christian sermons ever preached was heard for the first time in Edgefield, SC, in February, 1919. A young Baptist preacher named Robert Greene Lee walked to the pulpit and delivered "Pay Day Someday." Before he died in 1978, the victim of a mugging, Dr. Lee had preached his signature sermon more than 1,000 times.
(February 13, 1999)
- TRUE LOVE WAITS
- Our society is starving for intimacy, but we are mortgaging our future for instant gratification.
(February 6, 1999)
- THE HAPPIEST CHRISTMAS EVER
- "Thank you for everything you have done for us! We will always remember you! This was the happiest Christmas in our lives!" Reading that quotation, you would think that the teenager who wrote it was given the keys to a toy warehouse. You would be wrong.
(January 30, 1999)
- THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE, AND NOT SO FAVORITE, THINGS
- Julie Andrews told us about a few of her favorite things — raindrops and whiskers and doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles — and other antidotes for bee stings. I have been thinking about a few of mine. And some not so favorites.
(January 23, 1999)
- HOW CLOSE TO THE EDGE?
- Euthanasia. America has already crossed the line. Can we still recover?
(January 16, 1999)
- WHAT A WAY TO LIVE!
- Did you ever try to teach a horse to fly?
(January 9, 1999)
- GOD HAS MY LIFE
- Psychologists have long declared that a person's name is a vital part of an individual's mental well-being. If that is true, reading the names of the octuplets may explain why abortion by selective reduction was never an option to Nkem Chukwu and Iyke Louis Udobi. Maybe their names will give a clue to the clueless why the lives of unborn children will always be more important than corporate profit.
(January 2, 1999)
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