Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Blast From the Past: Thanksgiving

This was first posted on November 24, 2009. I have edited it to bring it more up to date.

This is the time of year that we remember the Pilgrims who held a feast to give thanks to God and invited the local Indian tribe, who brought the sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. We continue the tradition our forefathers began of eating far too much, and falling asleep on the couch while watching football games on TV. The celebration continues as we get up way too early in the morning to fight for parking spaces and all the bargains presented by our friendly local merchants.

It is easy for the above scenario to actually be true in our lives. We can get caught up in all the hype that has come to surround us this time of year. In the midst of the feasting with family, television watching, and shopping, we can forget what is really important. We can forget to be grateful for all that God has given us.

As I look back on this past year, there are many reasons to be thankful. The first, and most important, thing is the grace of God. I am thankful that God has adopted me into his family and that he loves me no matter what. I am thankful for the work of Jesus which makes me a child of God. I am thankful for the Spirit's guidance and work in me to make me more and more like Jesus.

I am thankful for a wonderful wife who loves me and is patient with my quirks and idiosyncrasies. Jan's love and support has been a truly amazing thing. I am thankful for a son and a daughter who have grown into responsible adults who love God. I am thankful for their spouses. I am thankful for my sister and her family and for the times we are able to get together, and for my sisters-in-law and their families.

I am thankful for friends who make me think, and challenge me to turn knowledge into action. I am thankful for the community of faith God has given us, a group of people learning together what it means to follow Jesus in the day-to-day of our lives. I am thankful for the things that God has taught me and the ways he has changed me.

I am thankful for the chance to serve some of the ones who are sometimes forgotten by others. I am thankful for life, health and all the things that we take for granted.

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

Well, the election is over and one candidate came out on top. There are strong feelings on both sides and there are folks on each side that are taking advantage of things and do some pretty terrible things. Hopefully, things will calm down in the next few months. On a brighter note, the Chicago Cubs are World Series champs! It took over a century, but they did it. Fall has finally arrived here in the sunny South and the leaves and temperatures are falling.

On to the links:

Death of a monster.
It's okay to not be perfect.
Don't be confused.
Kayla Zilch picks a bone.
No, it's not easy.

Interesting article.
A few suggestions.
Funny article.
No buts.
Birth year and the flu.

This is kind of sad.
This will make you wonder.
Which color pill are we supposed to take?
From anger to joy.
This might not be such a good thing.

What is fellowship?
A look at the future.
Bob Edwards on the broken heart.
Mike Erich on subtle idols.
Counter-cultural God.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thoughts on the Election

The 2016 campaign is over and I think it is safe to say that the result is not quite what a lot of folks expected. Full disclosure: I didn't vote for either of the major party candidates. So, I think I can speak on the result with somewhat of a neutral view.

I believe the last few months have uncovered some things about our country that most of us either didn't see, or simply refused to see. Throughout the primaries and on into the general election there were things said and done that should never be said about or done to another person. I know that there have been some pretty nasty campaigns in our nation's history, but that is no excuse for what came out of this election. That is one thing that saddens me.

Another thing that makes me sad is what I saw in the church. I saw people who claim to be followers of Jesus demean others who are made in the image of God, all because they supported another candidate. Questioning the faith of someone just because they don't wear the same political jersey is not what Jesus had in mind when he told to us love our brothers and sisters. Many seemed to forget that our first allegiance is to the King of Kings and not to a person or party. I have said it before and I'll say it again; some have sacrificed the gospel on the altars of political influence and prosperity.

I am also saddened by some of what I have seen in the days after the election. People on both sides are doing and saying things that they would condemn and have condemned in the folks on the other side. Folks on the winning side are decrying those who are chanting, "Not my president," while forgetting that some on their side said the same thing not very long ago. Others are committing acts of harassment and violence against those on the "other side."

 Americans have forgotten that we are all part of the same nation. We have divided along many lines and made it quite easy for power hungry demagogues to gain power by preying on our fears and convincing us that some of our fellow citizens are bent on destroying us. Even worse, those of us who claim to follow Jesus have forgotten that not only are we fellow Americans, but most importantly we are part of one body. Instead of hurting because one part of the body is in pain, we are telling other parts of the body Christ that they are useless and we don't need them. As the Apostle Paul said, that is ridiculous! How can we expect the world to listen to us when we are not showing love to those in our spiritual family!

Judging from the past year, we have a great opportunity to show those who are watching the truth, goodness, and beauty of Jesus by the way we treat each other and by the way we treat the least of these in our society. The problem is that we have not been doing a very good job of that lately. May God change our hearts and help us to live like who we say we are.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fourteen Days and Then???

In 14 days, the most brutal campaign season we have known will be over. It seems as if this country is more divided than ever before. The divide extends into the church. Regardless of who wins, things are likely to change in our nation.  I am encouraged by the fact that there are groups of Christians who are able to discuss current events without rancor. Jan and I are part of such a group.That is evidence of the Spirit working in us.

 Remember that no matter who is president, Jesus is still the King. We are citizens of the United States, but we are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and our first allegiance is there. Things may well get difficult for followers of Jesus in the days to come, but we have a Father who is in control of all things and who is always with us, no matter what. Don't listen to the prophets of gloom and doom. 

Our influence doesn't come from laws and statutes. It comes from living out the gospel in such a way that people will want to know why we have such hope in the middle of the mess. It comes from showing the world that we belong to Jesus by our love for each other. 

Lift up your hearts! The kingdoms of this world have been unable to stop the Kingdom, and they sure aren't going to start now.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

Fall has come on us here in the sunny South. The weather is cooler and the leaves are beginning to change color. The campaign ad season is almost over. Someone will be elected President. But, Jesus is still King. I think it would be good if his followers kept that in mind.

On to the good stuff:

Bonnie Petroschuk on fear.
Good post from Daniel Darling.
Listening to Dylan.
Good article on a controversial subject.

Good question.
Faithful and fit.
Good ideas for post-election healing.
Good post from John Frye.
Election revelations.

Life is more.
Good post from Bob Edwards.
Steve Brown on freedom.
Fred Smith asks a question.
Jared Wilson on loving our neighbor.

Letter to Jesus.
Political Christianity.
Provocative post from Keith Giles.
No disclaimers.

Have a blessed week!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Blast From the Past: Dreaming Again. Or Not

This was first posted on July 23, 2008. Nothing has changed.

Most of my life I've heard that God wants us to "dream big", "attempt great things for God, expect great things from God", and desire to be "greatly used". Well, I've dreamed big dreams and I've asked God to let me do great things for him. And, guess what? *crickets chirping*

That's right. Nothing has come of those dreams. In fact, most of them have crashed and burned. The dreams have ranged from competing in the Olympics (or at least getting to the Trials), to coaching college basketball and building a program that would be among the best in the country and having a ministry that would deeply impact the campus. I've even dreamed of of helping plant a church that would touch my community and advance the community. I've followed the advice of Christian motivational speakers and asked God to give me his dream for me, and I really believed he had done this.

I have come to the point in my life where I am done with dreaming. I believe that God does give some big dreams and big things to do for the Kingdom. I don't believe that I'm one of those people. Through my reading (Bible, blogs, and books), praying, and thinking, I've come to believe that God has called me to simply be a follower of Jesus. He is telling me to not worry about where the road is going to go, or what I am going to do along the journey. When I ask, he just says, "You'll find out". There were a lot of followers of Jesus in the 1st century that didn't make it into the New Testament or any of the writings of the time, but they were faithful to what God called them to do. That's what the Father is calling me to be. And, I'm okay with that.

I've often described my walk with God as a journey on the back roads. One of the things about the back roads is that they are away from the crowds, away from the spotlight. Back roads are not the places to do great things or become famous. They are places where a traveler can slow down and get to know their companions, where those you encounter are more likely to give and accept anything that is needed.

So, I'll continue following my Teacher and Friend down the back roads (and sometimes along narrow trails). There's a lot to see along the way and many interesting people to meet. And at the end, I look forward to the Father saying, "Welcome home".

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

Today is a good day to stay indoors. It's rainy and windy as we deal with the weather on the very fringes of Hurricane Matthew. We don't have the issues that the folks on the coast do. They will have a lot of cleaning up to do and a lot of recovering. Pray for those who have lost property or loved ones. In other news, there are thirty one days till the political ads end.

On to the links:

Steve Brown on living missional.
Matt Johnson is encouraging.
Fred Smith has some wise words.
Jordan Harrell on being a friend.
Evidently, we've been had.

Dangers of over parenting.
Losing control.
Kindness and lending.
Idol of suffering.
Thought provoking post.

This is pretty cool.
These are interesting.
This is a shame.
Good post from Jared Wilson.
This seems right to me.

This could change a lot!
Great story!
Matt Tebbe on leadership.
This looks like fun!
Frank Viola asks a question.

Have a blessed week!