Saturday, May 16, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

It's a beautiful weekend here in the sunny South. I'm spending a lot of time outside working in the yard, trying to make it look halfway decent. Continue to pray for Nepal. I can't imagine having to deal with a major disaster like that on the heels of the first one. If you can give to any of the organizations that are helping there, please do so.

Here are the links:

The royal law.
Carly Marin on tragedy.
What really happened?
Martin Marty on a rash of suicides among the Sioux.
Being hurt.

10 sacred sites destroyed in the last decade.
Good post from Arthur Sido.
Putting an end to sweatshop labor.
What is grace?
Lindsey Holcomb on the church and women at risk.

Freedom, joy, and dancing.
This probably won't be a smoke filled room.
Avengers, anthropology, and awareness.
Rushing or dragging?
Don't do it!

Mark Moore on Ascension Day.
Christian bill of rights.
Orlando Patterson on America's cities.
Glittering vices.
Good article from Jonathan Storment.

Have a blessed week!




Thursday, May 14, 2015

Echoes of Eden in Avengers: Age of Ultron

In Echoes of Eden, Jerram Barrs writes:
      In fact, we may propose as a principal that the themes of all great art-
      -whether produced by Christians or by non-Christians-- are the world 
      and human life as they came from from the hand of God; the world
      and human life as they now are subject to sorrow, sin, and death; and
      the world and human life as we long for and look forward to their restoration.

In "Avengers: Age of Ultron," the last two themes are evident. The Avengers are in a battle with an individual who is bent on ruling and/or destroying the world. Upon invading the headquarters of their adversary, the heroes take a piece of Norse mythology that is extremely powerful. Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, sees this as the final piece in his dream of creating a peaceful world without fear. He attempts to join the program that was captured with his own program in an attempt to create an artificial intelligence that would be the ultimate peacekeeper.

Unfortunately, the attempt goes awry, as all human attempts do. History is littered with the wreckage of man's efforts to bring about the ultimate peace. That longing still persists, as the movie ends with new recruits joining the Avengers in the ongoing attempt to protect the world and bring peace. We who follow Jesus see that longing played out in our attempts to be the peacemakers Jesus calls us to be. Sometimes we try to do this in our own strength and wisdom. The result often turns out the same as that of Tony Stark's misguided effort.

Should we give up trying to be peacemakers and seeking reconciliation? Should governments abandon efforts to negotiate
peace? I believe the answer is no. We should seek and work for peace and reconciliation whenever we can. As we do so, we must remember that it is the Spirit of Christ who is the ultimate peace giver, whether between individuals or nations. We also need to realize that the peace we seek may not be realized in this life. Of course, the ultimate peace and restoration of this world and human life will only happen when Christ returns and fully establishes the Kingdom.

Until then we will continue to hear echoes of Eden in music, film, art, literature, and in our own hearts. We can be encouraged, because we know that some day we will hear more than just echoes.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

Allergy season has kicked into high gear here in the sunny South. It has been hard to get a good night's sleep lately, with all the stuffiness and coughing. This too shall pass. The NBA playoffs continue and it looks as if the storylines this year will be different than those of the previous season. We are still three weeks from hurricane season and Tropical Storm Ana is making some noise off the east coast. It could be an interesting summer.

Enough small talk. On to the links:

Open letter to Tom Brady.
Allan Bevere on the church.
Christian American horror story.
Scot McKnight on holiness.
The E-word.

Making a difference?
That is a serious wave!
Walking as Jesus walked.
Chaplain Mike on the Table.
Great news for Liberia!

Good news for moms.
Good article from Donavon Riley.
How to miss out.
10 most polluted cities in the United States.
Jesus as the new Adam.

Steve Brown on God.
Is constant entertainment a good thing?
A faith worth losing?
A post about parenting from Matt Appling.
One source.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

No Fear

Fear. It seems as if the world runs on fear. A whole industry has evolved that is fed by fear. Organizations on both ends of the political spectrum raise money by appealing to the fear that those at the other end are going to destroy our country. Even Christian organizations use fear as a motive for giving money. The common thread that runs through the billions of dollars that are raised is fear of the future. Fear that things are not going to be good unless you give us money to fight "evil."

Those of us who follow Jesus should not allow ourselves to get wrapped up in fear of the future. In Romans 8, Paul tells us that there are two reasons we shouldn't fear. One is the spirit of adoption we have been given, and the other is the wonderful future that lies ahead of us.

We need not fear because the Creator and King of the universe has given us a spirit of adoption that causes us to call him "Abba," or "Daddy." Think about it. The sovereign God invites us to call him "Daddy." That blows my mind! Think about the most wonderful father you can imagine. Now consider that God is infinitely better, more powerful, more loving than that. If we are children of God, we have a daddy who desperately loves us, who cares about our good, and who is powerful enough to bring our good to pass. Our future is secure because our Father is in control.

So, why do we suffer? I believe that we suffer because Jesus suffered. The early church believed that the suffering of Christ on the cross and his resurrection inaugurated the Kingdom. They saw their own suffering as building for that Kingdom little by little. Paul wrote to the Galatians that his suffering somehow filled up what was missing in Christ's suffering. The church grew in the first three centuries through suffering and bloodshed. Look around the world today and you will see that the church still grows in suffering and bloodshed. It is in the West, where the church has grown comfortable and rich, that there is stagnation. Even so, we here in West do suffer. We may not be persecuted, but we suffer from sickness, disease, heartbreak, death, and sometimes it is hard to see any good in it. I believe even that suffering somehow builds for the Kingdom. There is hope for the future.

Our future as children of the Father is so bright that shades won't do any good. Somehow our future is so wrapped up with the restoration of all things that creation itself is waiting with expectant groaning for our final redemption. The glory that will be revealed in us will make our suffering in this life seem like nothing! Wow! When we come to the end of our rope, we can look ahead to a future that will far surpass the worst we can go through. I don't totally understand all of it, but there have been days when that truth was the only thing I had to hold on to. The good news is we do have that to hold on to in the midst of the worst storm.

Brothers and sisters, take heart! Your Abba loves you with an infinite love that will never let you go. Your suffering is being used by God to bring his Kingdom to bear in this life. Nothing that this life throws at you can ever prevent the glory of God from being revealed in you when the final restoration of all things comes to pass. Fear not.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

The last few days, it has actually been sunny here in the sunny South. The days are a bit warmer and the nights are pleasantly cool. Continue to pray for the folks in Nepal and for those who are over thereto help.

Here are the links:

Kansas City Bob on prayer.
Acknowledging privilege.
Want to skydive?
The Jesus Prayer.
Do you know someone who could use this?

Disturbances!
Keith Giles asks a good question.
Four elements of love.
Evidently, this is real.
Scott Sauls on love.

What do you do?
Zac Hicks reviews Who's Afraid of Modern Art?
When tragedy strikes.
Michael Spencer on the Kingdom.
St. Bob of Abilene.

Is apocalyptic thinking on the decline among evangelicals?
Peacemakers.
The greatest threat.
Males and their friends.
Repainting Hell.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Identity

Identity is a big issue these days. You have identity politics, entertainers constantly creating new identities for themselves in an effort to stay popular, and publications and advertising telling the rest of us how to live out a certain identity. There is even a movie coming out that is about a woman who wins the lottery and begins a television program that is simply all about her. All of these have a couple of things in common; a focus on the self, and a very good chance of disappointment.

When I was younger, I built an identity as a pretty decent sprinter. I had dreams of making it to the Olympics. I even made it to being a part of a fairly well known track club, and was close to being a national class runner. I had just one problem. I reached the top of my potential and was not really good enough to continue putting the time and effort into the sport at that level. That identity fell by the way. Then my identity became that of a coach and teacher. I lived that out for a good long time until it too went away. I have had to learn the hard way that my true identity is as a beloved child of the Creator of the universe.

For a person who follows Jesus, the only identity that matters, and the identity from which everything else flows, is our identity as children of a loving Father and as co-heirs with Jesus of everything the Father has. We have been adopted as children with all of the rights and responsibilities of a son or daughter of the King. That identity is something that will never change and will never disappear, no matter what.

This identity means that it really doesn't matter what others think of us, because God loves us. He not only loves us, he likes us and thinks we're pretty special. It also means that our future is secure. Not only is it secure, but the renewal of creation is somehow tied in with our final redemption. That blows my tiny little mind! Our identity means that we are part of a family that stretches all over the world and through time. We never lack for brothers and sisters.

Our identity carries with it responsibilities as well as privileges. Because God is our Father, we are to live in such a way that folks see the family resemblance in us. We should be the spittin' image of our Abba. That means that we strive to treat others with the same grace and love with which our Father treats us, especially those who are part of the family. Our brothers and sisters should be as dear to us as they are to the Father. Since our final redemption is somehow connected to the restoration of creation, we have a responsibility to see creation as something good, to be cared for and stewarded as a gift from our loving Father. That also means using whatever creative gifts God has given us to bless others ands bring glory to our Father.

There is no greater identity than that of a beloved child of Abba. God help us to live in that reality.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

They say that April showers bring May flowers. If that is true, this little corner of the world is going to be covered with blooms next month! It's playoff time in the NBA, so I'm trying to watch a few games. I enjoy pro basketball much more diurimg the playoffs. Pray for the folks in Nepal after the devastating earthquake. It's hard for me to imagine going through something like that.

On to the links:

Expectations.
Boy with a broken heart.
Good post from Zach Hunt.
5 practices from Paul Perkins.
Interview with Sandra McCracken.

Law, grace, and the phone store.
Shocking truth.
Some of us are getting close to this.
Pistachios!
Ideas for family portraits.

Nope. Nope. Nope.
Kansas City Bob on justice.
Being countercultural.
Scot McKnight on grace.
Going to God.

Religious despair.
A letter to ISIS.
Good news indeed!
Michael Spencer on lament.
John Frye on vain repetitions.

Have a blessed week!