Wednesday, August 27, 2014

World Vision Wednesday

Christians and other minorities in Iraq are undergoing severe persecution. World Vision is working to bring aid to displaced families. For more information see this.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekend Wanderings

The weekend links are back! Things have slowed down a bit here in the sunny South, although there is still much to be done. School has resumed, football games are being played, and the smell of fall is in the air. Or, maybe that's air conditioners overheating due to the current heat wave. Evidently, the United States may send troops in to Syria to fight ISIS. I hope it doesn't come to that. Pray for the Christians and others in that part of the world who are being persecuted and killed for the crime of being unlike the terrorists.

Here are the links:

 The vow.
Chaplain Mike reviews Our Great Big American God.
Kansas Bob's favorites. What are yours?
Christology of Slow Church.
Things are heating up in Seattle.

Eric Carpenter on seven marks of a New Testament church.
Good post from Elyse Fitzpatrick.
Liberating impossibility.
Tattoos.
Jesus, birds, and flowers.

Matt Appling on the Bubble.
A worthy investment of $5?
Ten quotes from Keith Giles.
A pastoral approach to depression.
Healing shame.

Arthur Sido on living by the sword.
Hope.
State fair food.
What if Paul wrote a church planting book? 
Jesus never ends.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, August 22, 2014

What I Did During My "Summer Vacation"

On June 5, the last day of school, I left the teacher's assistant job that I had held for the past 8 1/2 years. On the same day, my father-in-law fell in his garage and broke his hip. Thus began a very interesting summer.

Because of the accident, I actually didn't go in for my last day. I won't go into the details here, but it was time to leave. I had been looking for other work, preferably in sports and recreation, for a few months. I didn't think it would be a hard or long search but, as seems to happen quite a bit, God had something totally different in store for me. Jan and I spent a good bit of the next few days at the hospital. Thankfully, everything happened in the same city in which we live. There were a few complications, so there were some times when we wondered what was going to happen next. Thankfully, the complications were taken care of and my father-in-law moved into a rehab facility. At the time, the goal was to get him healed and rehabilitated to the point where he would be able to return home and live his life as he had before the accident. During this time a number of possible work opportunities presented themselves. None of them were in sports and recreation, and none of them were immediate.

Fast forward to the end of July. Jan's dad was finally able to put weight on his leg, so the therapy to get him walking and hopefully back home could begin. We would know something in about two weeks. At the same time a few of the possible job opportunities faded away. The one that remained was taking care of my father-in-law during the day, and possibly doing some tutoring on the side. In the midst of all this, our son found out that he had a mass on his thyroid that might be cancerous.

After a couple of weeks of rehab, we were told that Jan's dad would not be able to go home unless someone could be there 24/7. So, we went on a search for an assisted living place that didn't cost an arm and a leg and that would be good for him. We found a good place that was affordable, and moved him in just last Friday. He seems to be adjusting well. Two weeks ago, Josh had surgery to remove the thyroid and the biopsy report on the mass showed that there was no cancer! We are thankful for the way we have seen God provide in both of those things the past couple of months.

This past Wednesday, school resumed. I slept in. I still have nothing in the way of what could be called a regular job. There are possibilities still, but nothing concrete yet, except for the responsibility of being my father-in-law's financial representative. There is much to be done in that area in the next few months. I may be subbing in a local Christian school, and there are preparations to be done for Jennie's wedding in September. So, at least I won't be bored.

The road continues to be shrouded in mist, and the way ahead is not as clear as I would like. I am learning to trust that my Father loves me and wants to give me good things. I am learning to live, not in expectation of certain outcomes, but in expectancy of what God is going to do as he expresses his love and grace to me.

So, the road goes on and on.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blast From the Past: Who Gets In?

There's new stuff coming. I promise. In the meantime, here is something I wrote on June 14, 2010.

Yesterday, we were discussing the Beatitudes in our gathering. When I was growing up, I was taught that the Beatitudes were characteristics of people during the future millennial kingdom. Later, the idea that they were traits that would make us blessed if we cultivated them. In the last couple of years, I've come to believe that neither of these ways of seeing the Beatitudes hits the mark. The first way essentially ignores the teachings of Jesus, or relegates some of them to a time far off in the future, missing the point of the Gospels. The second way turns the Beatitudes into "9 Steps to a Blessed Life," making them another thing we have to do.

In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard makes the point that if we look at the context of Jesus' ministry and the context of the passage, we see that what Jesus is doing is announcing the availability of the Kingdom of God to those were seen as having no chance to enter. The prevailing opinion in first century Judea was that wealth and status were signs of God's favor, and poverty was a sign of sin and disfavor. Sounds like our culture today, doesn't it? Jesus traveled the length and breadth of the land announcing that the Kingdom of God was at hand, and then taught that this kingdom was open to everyone who would follow him, whether or not they fit the image of a righteous person.

Look at the folks who flocked to Jesus. Those on the bottom rung of the ladder, even those who couldn't reach the ladder. The very ones who were called sinners by the religious leaders were the ones Jesus ate and drank with. It was these people who were invited into the Kingdom, and the only requirement was that they follow Jesus and learn his way. In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds his readers that it is not those on the top of the heap who have been called. It is those who are not the best and brightest.

Jesus time on earth turned the entire established religious order upside down. Those who thought they had their kingdom membership card already validated were told that they were wrong, and those who thought that they were hopeless were told that the Kingdom was open to them. Even after Jesus told the people that their righteousness had to exceed that of the Pharisees, they continued to follow him because they recognized his authority.

When we stand before the Father at the restoration of all things, how surprised will we be at who is there? How many will be surprised that we are there? We should not presume to think we know who is a follower of Jesus. He is still in the business of turning expectations upside down.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Short Update

Sorry the writing is a bit sparse these days. We're pretty busy with some family matters that are taking a big chunk of time. Nothing super serious, but I would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and guidance. Thanks.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blast From the Past: You Are More

This was first posted on March 1, 2011.

In our gathering Sunday, we were discussing who we are in Christ. We were talking about how we often react to certain situations and people according to old scripts that tell us we are this or we are that. We listen to lies that people have told us, saying that we are worthless, that we are stupid, that we are unloved. Because we believe those scripts, we have a hard time believing that God really loves us, and we are not free to love ourselves or to love others as Jesus has loved us. One of our brothers played a song by the group Tenth Avenue North titled "You Are More."

Here are the lyrics:

There's a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered
And the shame she can't hide

She says, "How did I get here?
I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear
That I've fallen too far to love"

But don't you know who you are,
What's been done for you?
Yeah don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling
That it's not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she's rehearsed all the lines
And so she'll try to do better
But then she's too weak to try

But don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,

You've been remade.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

You've been remade
You've been remade.
You've been remade.
You've been remade.

You are more. More than what you have done, more than what has happened to you. You are more than what the old scripts tell you. You are a beloved child of the Creator, a co-heir with Christ. You are made in God's image, more than simply a "sinner saved by grace." You are free! Let me repeat. You. Are. Free! Free to love your Father with reckless abandon, knowing that he loves you the same way.

You are more. So much more.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weekend Wanderings

It's that time again. Is it just me, or are the weeks going by faster? Things are humming along here in the sunny South. Jan's dad is still in rehab from breaking his hip at the beginning of June. Hopefully he'll be able to get back home in a few weeks. I am still looking for work. There are some possibilities out that there, but nothing concrete as of yet. Yesterday, I had the chance to catch up with one of my basketball players from a few years back. He and his family came through town and we had breakfast together. It was encouraging to see him and hear how well he was doing as a teacher, coach, husband, and father.

Here are this week's links:

Slow church, sin and repentance.
A Jesus shaped response to Israel and Gaza.
Confessions of a local pastor.
To the one losing her faith.
The ten official Trappist breweries.

Apartments in DC are getting smaller.
Good post from Kristen Welch.
How poor?
This is good.
Good Kickstarter project.

Five Bible verses to stop misusing.
A Biblical case for awesome beards.
Visions of glory.
Review of a book on the Crusades. Looks interesting.
Mike Bell on hitchhiking.

Have a blessed week!