Monday, May 16, 2016

A Passing Generation

This past Friday, my father-in-law passed from this life into the next. He had been in an assisted living facility for a year and a half after falling and breaking his hip. A little over a month ago, he celebrated his 95th birthday and it became increasingly clear that his life on this earth was nearing its end. He became unresponsive on Thursday, and on Friday took his final breath.

There has been grieving, as is normal when a loved one is no longer there, but there is also a sense of relief and a knowledge that his suffering is over and he is now completely whole and at peace. There is also a sense that things are now different, as the last of our parents has passed from the scene. This generation has been called the "greatest generation," and there is a sense in which this is true. They defeated the greatest threat to the world up to that time, and came back to build a country that became the most influential on earth.

My father-in-law was a good example of that generation. Charlie left a small town in Iowa to move to Washington, DC and begin a career with the FBI. He began as a clerk, going to school at night to get a college degree in order to become a special agent. This career was interrupted by war and he joined the navy and served in the Pacific as a signalman on a troop transport. His ship was torpedoed by the Japanese and survived a typhoon. After returning to the US, he was promoted to special agent. He served in that position for twenty four years.

After retiring from government service, Charlie spent a few years as head of security at a local bank. I met him after he retired when I began to date his youngest daughter. From the start, I felt completely accepted. I was made to feel like part of the family. For some reason my father-in-law thought I was pretty special. When he moved into the facility in 2014, I hung some plates on his wall. I have a decent eye so I was able to hang them pretty straight without using a level. Charlie was always telling people who came in to see him that I had done such an amazing job of hanging them straight by just eyeballing them. He continually told me what a good son-in-law I was and how glad he was that I had married his daughter. He was always a huge encouragement to me..

Charlie's sense of humor was a source of amusement for all of us. From him, we learned how a crow lights on a limb. We also learned that if you didn't know where someone was, they were probably on a night train to Memphis, and we also learned the answer to the question, "Think all this rain will hurt the rhubarb?" (Answer: Not if it's in cans) My father-in-law, along with my mother-in-law got along very well with my parents, so it was a joy to be able to get to together with all four of them when we visited, and later when all four moved to be near us.

Charlie Parkis is at rest with his Savior. I am grateful for the way he accepted me as if I was his son and for the encouragement he was to our family. He will be missed, but we know we will see him again some day.  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

Sorry the posting has been spotty lately. There's a lot going on in our little corner of the world and blogging has had to slide down the priority pole. I am planning to write a post on some of what is part of our lives right now.

In the meantime, here are some links:

A Bible for everyone.
Family-friendly = Christian?
Is it really about the bucket list?
Kierkegaard and the offense of Christianity.
Pam Hogeweide on golden handcuffs.

Self righteousness.
A different perspective on Donald Trump.
Dialing up a random Swede.
Getting better.
I don't know. This seems like a poor substitute.

Classic imonk post.
Pascal's other wagers.
Good article on being hated.
Putting cats to work.
How many of these are you guilty of?

Messy saints.
Good post from Keith Giles.
Good words from Bob Edwards.
Pogo, the Pilgrims, and us.
Scot McKnight on Kingdom and leadership.

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

It's the weekend when the college basketball season comes to an end. The NCAA men's champion will be crowned Monday night, while the women's champion will be decided Tuesday. Then the waiting for October begins. Sure, there are other sports, but none that match the excitement of college basketball. You, of course, are entitled to disagree. We'll still be friends.

Enough small talk. On to the links:

Are you street smart?
This is still a problem.
Before the war.
Are you repentant enough?
April Fools' Day poem.

Mr. Rogers the radical?
New political poll. (Note the date)
Easter politics.
Interesting post.

Funny post.
Muscles and aging.
Good post from Chaplain Mike.
Money back guarantee? Really?
Mike Erich on forgiveness.

Bob Edwards' thoughts on Christianese.
Christmas and Easter.
In between.
The season of Easter.
Encouraging post from Dan Edelen.

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Jesus the King: Part 3

Jesus is our Shepherd who cares for us, our leader who gave himself for us and fights for us. He is also our absolute ruler. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus has some pretty strong words for those who would claim to follow him. Jesus is a despot. A benevolent despot, but a despot nonetheless. He expects nothing less than total allegiance to him. It is hard for us to grasp the ramifications of this. We live in a democratic republic where we have a say. We tend too easily to give our allegiance to things of this world, whether it's a person, party, ideology, country, church, or denomination. None of these things can come before our King. They may be good things, but they are still things of this world that will pass away.

Even those who live under dictatorships can possibly overthrow their rulers. Jesus cannot be overthrown. His power is absolute and his word is law. When he commands something, he doesn't put it up for a referendum. His commands are so vital that they carry eternal significance. There is a bit of tension when we talk about following Jesus and then read about obeying his commands. I thought we were saved by grace, not by keeping the law. Why does Jesus give us all these commands? When you look at Jesus' commands, they are actually quite impossible, if we try ton keep them in our own strength. That's what makes the kingship of Jesus so different. His commands are not just a new law, a new list of do's and don'ts. They are what Kingdom people are, how they live. Not only does our King give us commands, he also gives us the power to obey them. As we grow more and more into Kingdom people, we take Jesus' commands more and more seriously, realizing that we can only do what he says through the power of his Spirit in us. That's where grace comes in. Our King knows that we are weak and falter in our walk with him. He doesn't cast us into a dungeon or out of the Kingdom. He pulls us up and reminds us of who we are.

So, what does this mean for us here in the 21st century? First, we must realize that while the Kingdom has been inaugurated, it is not fully realized. In a very real sense, Jesus is a King in exile. We, his subjects, are here to work for his Kingdom. We are citizens of a Kingdom that is not like the kingdoms of this world. Second, we must learn what following the King means. As we look into Scripture, we must do so with the commitment to do what Jesus says. Third, we then are to teach one another, in community, how it all fleshes out in our day-to-day. We show what our King is like by sacrificially loving and serving others. We live out his words that those who belong to him are family.

As we do these things, we must remember that we can not live this way in our own power. We can do so only in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must also remember that we will not do this perfectly in this life, and that our brothers and sisters also will falter in their walk. Patience and grace is vital.

To quote one of my favorite passages from Tales of the Kingdom, "How goes the world?"  "The world goes not well." "But, the Kingdom comes!" Let us be people in whom the Kingdom comes more and more each day.

Part 2
Part 1

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

This weekend we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. This is my favorite holiday. It's one that hasn't been co-opted as much by the culture. And we don't have to listen to rants about a "war on Easter" either.

Enjoy the links:

Pam Hogeweide on artistic grace.
What America needs.
The healing power of forgiveness.
Grace notes from Keith Giles.

Good post from the Babylon Bee.
Easter disasters.
Evidently, Good Friday this year was a rare day.
In remembrance. (HT: Bob Edwards)
The hard road.

The grip of doubt.
Ugly food.
Trusting our beliefs.
John Updike on Easter.
President Jesus?

Creepy Easter bunnies.
Revolutionary changes.
What you do, or who you are?
Redefining greatness.

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Jesus the King: Part 2

Jesus is not only the King who is our Shepherd, he is also the Servant King. In contrast to those false shepherds in Ezekiel 34, who not only neglected to care for the sheep, but treated them harshly and used them for their own benefit, Jesus is a king who leads by serving. That seems strange to us who have grown up with "strong leaders," who took what they could get and built empires on the backs of their followers. Unfortunately, even in the church, there are leaders who would get along quite well with the false shepherds of Israel. Jesus is not that kind of leader. In Matthew,

Jesus stated that he came to serve and to give his life. In John 6, we see him serving others even when he was exhausted. In John 13, Jesus washed the disciples' feet, performing the job of a household slave, and then told them to serve others in the same way.Philippians 2 tells us that the one who is God took on servant good and performed the ultimate act of serving by giving his life for us. Our King serves us now being our advocate before the Father. Our King fights for us, strengthens us, intercedes for us. He leads us and calls us to follow him by loving and serving others.

May we follow our call to be servants, even to the point of laying down our lives for others.

Part 1

Friday, March 18, 2016

Jesus the King: Part 1

Back in December, our church did an Advent series on Jesus as a prophet, as a priest, and as a king. I had the privilege of teaching about Jesus as King. We looked at three aspects of Jesus' kingship: shepherd, servant, and absolute ruler. This first post looks at Jesus as Shepherd.

For the rare person who may not know what a shepherd does, he takes care of the sheep. He watches nover them and feeds them. Ancient Near-Eastern peoples saw their rulers as shepherds. Sumerian kings were depicted as wearing a shepherd's hat and were recognized as the protectors of their people. The Hykso rulers were known as shepherd kings. In Psalm 23, David declares that God is the Shepherd. The Hebrews would have understood that David was also calling God the King.

Israel's human leaders, both kings and priests, were called shepherds. In Ezekiel 34:1-10, God calls the nation's leaders to account for being bad shepherds. In verses 11-16 of the same chapter, God says that he himself will be Israel's Shepherd. Jesus applies that to himself in John 10:14, when he says that he is the Good Shepherd, that all who came before him were thieves and robbers. Hebrews 13:20 calls Jesus the great Shepherd of the sheep, and 1 Peter 2:25 tells us that he is the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. Like a shepherd, our King takes care of us. As David wrote, we lack nothing. He feeds us, protects us, and leads us. Sometimes he takes us into the valley, but we can have assurance that he is always with us and has gone that way before.

In this election season in particular, let us remember that there is no human ruler who can provide what we really need, no matter what they promise. Our Shepherd is the Creator of this universe. He is the true King.