Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just Wondering

I was thinking this afternoon (that's dangerous, I know) about Jesus statement to his disciples that they could expect to be hated and persecuted because he was. When I was growing up I was always taught that this meant if I didn't dress like the world, didn't listen to the same music as the world, and didn't hang around with worldly people, then those folks would hate me, make fun of me, call me names, etc. It would be okay though, because Jesus had been hated, been made fun of, and been called names. That message is still being preached in some churches around the country.

There is no question that Jesus was hated and persecuted by some of the people in his day. Heck, they even put him to death! But, I started to think about the folks who did the persecuting and the reasons why. Amazingly enough, it was not the "sinners" that hated Jesus, made fun of him and called him names. Those were the very people who followed Jesus. They were the ones who hung on his every word and who believed that he was the Messiah.

It was the religious leaders who hounded Jesus wherever he went, always looking for a way to trip him up and get him in trouble. They were the ones who said Jesus had a demon and implied that he was an illegitimate child. And, they called Jesus names like drunkard and glutton because he hung out with the "sinners". Wait a minute. I thought the sinners, the ones who drink and party, are the very people I'm supposed to stay away from so my "testimony" isn't damaged. I mean, heaven forbid someone should see me go into a bar or attend a party where "lost" people are gathered. They might start calling me a drunk or something like that, or at least might think that I'm not a very good Christian.

After all, I'm supposed to be a follower of Jesus and he would never put himself in a position where others would see him hanging out with the riff-raff and think badly of him. Would he?

Wait, you mean...?

Hmmmm.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Church Basement Roadshow is coming

On Tuesday, July 29, The Church Basement Roadshow will be at the Portico, which meets at Johnston Memorial Presbyterian Church at 729 E. 36th Street in Charlotte. The doors open at 6:30 PM and the show starts at 7:00. If you are in the Charlotte area come by and check it out.

Friday, July 25, 2008

TGIF

After Wednesday's post, my son Josh reminded me of the really important things. God has blessed me with success in coaching (five state final fours, two state championships), opportunities to touch the lives of young people, a loving family, and a questioning heart that seeks to know God better. Yeah, I definitely think I like the back roads better.

Here's what I liked this week:

Molly explains pro-life.

Bob Hyatt has a Zen moment.

Brian Jones thinks we need a new name.

Pam reviews Lord Save Us From Your Followers.

iMonk chronicles his journey.

Have you heard of the churches for guys?

Please don't say you're the only one who hasn't seen this.

And they say young people are apathetic.

Michael Spencer learns from the little.

Check out this video that Frank turned me on to.

Len at NextReformation has some good thoughts on Feeding the Beast.

Discovery on Mt. Ararat!

No matter how much things change, they always stay the same.

Tradition!

Enjoy your weekend. Tomorrow we're off to Asheville for Bele Chere.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dreaming Again - Or Not

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".

Friday, July 18, 2008

TGIF

When I said, "Oh, today's Friday", my son reminded me that in the summer every day is Friday, or Saturday. That is so true. The days just sort of melt into each other. Thankfully this summer is going by slowly. It's still a month before we go back to school.

There have been some interesting thoughts floating around the blogosphere lately:

Todd Hiestand wonders where to start.

The Thinklings are encouraging.

Element in Nashville is doing something really cool.

Tall Skinny Kiwi has some advice for anyone visiting Europe.

Brother Maynard has a list of 100 books.

John Armstrong weighs in on the pluralism debate.

Bob Hyatt has a good post on touch.

Molly has stripped things down to the bare bones.

We went to downtown Rock Hill tonight to watch a movie on an outdoor screen. Tonight's film was To Kill a Mockingbird. Great movie.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jesus and "Us"

There's a guy in our town who puts religious messages on a sign from time to time. The current sign reads, "The last two letters in Jesus is us".

I'm not quite sure how to think about it. I'm don't know what message he is trying to get across. My first reaction was, "Typical American evangelical Christianity. It's all about me." After further consideration I thought that there is a sense in which the message of the sign is true. Jesus did die for individuals and individuals follow him.

On the other hand, there is a sense in which following Jesus is about so much more than the individual. I firmly believe that we are Christ's disciples in community and that we need each other. I'm much more generous in my thinking about what form that community can take than I used to be, but I still believe we are called to be on this journey with others.

So, I'm kind of muddled in my thinking about this. What do you think?

Friday, July 11, 2008

TGIF

I didn't see any hummingbirds fighting over the feeder today. Could it be that they have learned to live together in harmony? Probably not. This has been a busy week and I'm a bit behind in my reading, so the list of interesting stuff may be a little short.

The Watchman is playing some sweet music.

Christian Reformed Mafia has some interesting information.

imonk deals with Scripture translations.

Scot McKnight disappoints a lot of politicians.

John Armstrong doubts the media.

Jeff McQ tells us what he really thinks.

Anthony Smith reflects on Cornerstone. Part 1 and Part 2.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hummingbirds II

A while back, I wrote about the hummingbirds that come to our feeder. A couple of days ago, I was sitting on the back porch and a hummingbird came to the feeder. It was interesting to watch because it spent all the time looking around to see if another bird was going to come chase it away. The poor thing never did get any nectar because it was afraid of the other hummingbird.

I got to thinking how often we are like that hummingbird. We are afraid to really follow Jesus because we are afraid of being attacked, by non-Christians and by Christians. Those of us who grew up in more conservative circles know what it's like to always worry about doing something that will "harm your testimony" or "offend another Christian". When I first began to realize that many of the things I was taught when I was younger were more in line with the culture that grew around the American Church in the past century than with what the Bible teaches, I still had times of looking over my shoulder in fear of what people might think or say.

That is not a Christ-honoring way of thinking. Jesus has set us free from the expectations and opinions of others. He has called us to follow him, not any system or philosophy concocted by human beings. A quick glance at the history of Christ followers shows the diversity in the ways we are called to follow. Beyond what we find in the New Testament, Jesus did not give us an exhaustive list of how to live our lives. Yes, there are certain principles that inform our lives, the most important being love God and love others. But there is a lot of life that is not as cut and dried as some would like to think.

Galations 5:1 Paul tells us that it is for freedom that Christ set us free. Galations 5:13 does tell us that we are not use our freedom as an excuse to sin, but much of the time that verse is misused as a weapon to get people to do what a particular group or person wants them to do.
We are free. Free to follow Christ in the way that he calls us, without worrying about what other people think. What can they do? Take our things? It all belongs to God anyway. Will they refuse fellowship? We have fellowship with the Father. Will they try to damage our reputation? What reputation? We're all broken people in need of God's grace and none of us is better than another. Will they take away our position? That frees us up to pursue another avenue of service. The worst they can do is kill us. If they do that, then we are with Christ. If we realize that all we are is because of God's grace and that Jesus loves us no matter what, we can then be free to live our lives as the Holy Spirit leads us and become more like Jesus according to his schedule, not ours or any body else's.

Don't be like the hummingbird. Spend time drinking the nectar of God's amazing grace instead of looking around to see who might attack you.

Friday, July 4, 2008

TGIF

After two weeks off, TGIF is back (no applause, just throw money). It's July 4, and it was fittingly hot here in the sunny South. Question: Do they have July 4 in England? Answer: Yes, but they don't celebrate it.

I had a lot of blog reading to catch up on after we returned from our trip. I'm not going to even try to link to all of the good ones. These are just a few of the highlights. If you want to read more, just check out "Sites to See" at the bottom of the page. If you have a great blog post and I don't include it, feel free to leave a link in the comments. :)

Barb is talking missional.

Camille puts down some good thoughts.

Molleth is a conscientious objector in the Culture War.

The Wittenburg Door has a good article about Mark Driscoll.

Jake Belder has a good reminder for us this Independence Day.

The Gospel Driven Blog has some consolation for us.

Pam writes about the loneliness of church.

Michael Spencer has a great post on economic discipleship.

Jeff McQ wants to know your favorite lines from "The Princess Bride."

Here's a great idea for getting to know your neighbors.

Jonathan Brink tells a story about a guy going into a bar.

Dan Kimball writes about organs and music.

Enjoy the holiday weekend! Tomorrow Jan and I celebrate 28 years of wedded bliss. (I think she deserves a medal for putting up with me this long.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Family Trip: Epilogue

Looking back on our cruise, there were a couple of things that struck me. The first was the unbelievable privilege of being a father. I hadn't really thought about it at the time, but I scheduled the trip for the week after Father's Day. So, as it turned out, I had a whole week of Father's Day. It was really nice being able to spend a week with my wife and adult children. The relationship is different than it was when they were growing up. Now, it's more of a friend to friend thing, not quite peers, but not quite parent/child either. God has blessed Jan and me with two great kids and it was fun to spend a week traveling together. It may well have been the last trip as a family for a long time. Jennie is moving to Los Angeles on Monday, and Josh will be studying overseas next summer and will probably move elsewhere in the country after he graduates.

The other thing that I thought about was the incredible diversity of God's creation. I like to people watch, and there was ample opportunity to enjoy that on the trip. There was an amazing variety of individual persons, all made in the image of the Creator. Seeing them gave me a greater appreciation of the fact that we really are not all that different. Each of us is a creation of the Sovereign God and we each are in need of God's grace. None of us has any reason to think we are any better than anyone else.

We also saw a wide array of plants and animals that showed God's creativity and love of beauty. One of the ways I relate to the Father is through nature, so I thoroughly enjoyed being out in Creation.

Not only was the trip a nice getaway, but it also drew me closer to my Father. Imagine that.

Weelend Wanderings

The first weekend links post of autumn is here! The weather is beautiful here in the sunny South. It was fifty degrees on our back porch thi...