Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Two Years

It's been two years since my mom and dad left this world and stepped into the presence of their Lord. Mom passed on August 27, and Dad joined her thirty three days later, on September 30.

After two years, the pain and sorrow is not as fresh or strong as it was. I am continuing to heal, although there are still times when I find myself with a catch in my throat and a tear in my eye. When a holiday comes, especially Mother's Day or Father's Day, I stop and think about how much I miss them. Whenever I read or hear something about the loss of a family member, I feel my own loss. When I read about being reunited with loved ones in God's presence, I long for that day.

When Josh, along with a little bit of help from me, laid a new kitchen floor, I thought of how my dad was probably watching while we were working; wishing we could hear his words of advice. I think he is pleased.

Losing the ones who brought you into this world, who began the process of teaching you to make your way, and who were a major influence on your journey of faith is hard. It does leave a hole that is not filled. Maybe that is so we don't get too attached to life in the here and now, but look for the time when the King will make all things right.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What is the Gospel?

The other day there was a street preacher out on the corner of a busy intersection here in town. He had positioned himself in front of a gas station across from the university here. Because it was a sunny Saturday, there were people driving by, folks getting their cars washed, and college students walking by. I guess you could say he had a "captive" audience.

The problem with the audience is that it was mostly made up of people going to or from someplace. With the exception of the students who were standing around laughing and taking pictures with their cell phones, or the people waiting for their cars to be washed, his "audience" was on the move. He kept on preaching into a microphone that was connected to a large speaker on the back of a truck. Because we were going into the drug store to get a birthday card, I couldn't make out much of what the preacher was saying, although I could make out "sin", "hell", "God", and "Savior".

On Sunday the street preacher probably told his congregation that he spent a good part of the day "proclaiming the Gospel". I wondered what his definition of the Gospel is. Having grown up in churches where this type of thing would not be that uncommon, I think his definition would probably end in "go to heaven when you die", or something similar.

This is probably a simple exercise for most of you out there, but I am wondering: How would you define "the Gospel"? Is it simply believe in Jesus and go to heaven when you die? Or is there more?

Your thoughts?

Friday, September 26, 2008

TGIF

Meltdown on Wall Street. Mortgage foreclosures. Gas shortages. Political polarization. And, you know what? God is still in control.

Enjoy these links:

Want to be in a parade? Go here.

Check this out. It's hilarious. (HT: Bob Hyatt)

Good thoughts from Josh.

imonk writes about the Christian counter-culture, and the current economic crisis.

Brant Hansen knows how to neutralize Al-Qaeda.

Order vs. chaos.

Jared Wilson reinterprets "The Little Red Hen"

The good thing about the gas shortage in the Southeast is that it gives me a chance to say, "I remember when..." (referring to the problems in the 70s).

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, September 19, 2008

TGIF

It's almost officially fall here in the sunny South. The weather has been fall like, with highs in the 70s, and lows in the 50s.

There's some good thoughts floating around in cyberspace. Here's a sampling:

When celebrities get involved in politics.

imonk reveals the "real" prosperity gospel.

I may use this when I travel next month. (HT: Scot McKnight)

John Armstrong talks politics.

Brant Hansen has good posts here and here.

Jeff McQ reflects on the journey.

"I won't sin"

Brother Maynard wonders who Jesus would torture.

The most awesomest muppets. (HT: Brother Maynard)

I'll have to give in and mow the yard tomorrow. At least the gas prices are about 40 cents cheaper than they were last weekend. Have a good one.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

To Those Who "Love Jesus"

I read and hear a lot from people who "love Jesus". I wonder about this, because then I read and hear things that don't match up with loving Jesus. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commands." Some of the things I see from those who claim to love Jesus are, to be quite frank, violations of His commands.

I'm not just talking about those whose life seems to be characterized by drunkenness, immorality, profanity, and a general who gives a f*** attitude. I see it in those who are judgemental, who are self righteous, who are racist, who ignore the poor and oppressed, who think that just because they go to the right church, use the right version of the Bible, and know all the right words, have it made.

Jesus called us to follow Him, to be His disciples. A disciple is one who will do anything to be like his master. The ancient Jews had a saying, "Follow a rabbi, drink in his words, and be covered with the dust of his feet." That meant to follow him so closely that the dust he kicked up would cover them. That's what it means to follow Jesus. To be so close that we are covered with his dust. The early believers were first called "Christians" as a derogatory term because the culture was calling them "little Christs".

Maybe the reason the culture rejects "Christianity" is because they look at the "little Christs" and think, "If these people are really like Jesus, I don't want anything to do with them or him." Can we blame them?

It is past time for those who claim to love and follow Jesus to be serious about what that means. It means that we are willing to do whatever it takes to be like Him. It means reading the account of His life and teachings in the Gospels and the teaching about how to flesh this life out in the rest of the New Testament. It means being willing to give up my dreams and passions in return for God's dreams and passions for me. When Jesus walked on water, Peter was willing to get out of the boat and risk drowning to be like his Rabbi. How willing are we?

There is a revolution growing in the body of Christ. A new Reformation. God is doing some great things. Join us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Real Life

A little bit ago, Rachel posted a picture of Piper Palin spitting on her palm so she could wet down the cow-lick in her brother's hair. It's a cute picture and has even made it onto late night TV.

What struck me about that picture was how, in the midst of all the hoopla of a political convention, real life happens. Sometimes we get so wrapped in the things we are doing that we forget that life is going on all around us. We tend to get tunnel vision and think that the "big thing" that we are doing is the most important thing on earth. This is true whether we are involved in politics, making money, or even doing "church" work.

It has been said that at the end of our lives, no one will say, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office." I think that is so true. Most of us will look back over our lives and wish we'd developed relationships with those around us, even with those in our own families.

I wonder if we will stand before Jesus and hope he will be impressed with the churches we have built, the doctrinal debates we have won, the systematic theologies we have constructed; only to hear him say, "Yes, but how many of your neighbors did you really get to know? How many times did you give to me by relating to and serving one of the least of these? Did you help your family grow in their faith? You missed a lot of the abundant life that I came to give you because you were consumed with all the "great" things you thought you were doing for me."

Let us never forget to live.

Friday, September 12, 2008

TGIF

Does it seem like the presidential campaign has been going on forever? Now all the state office candidates are running their mud-slinging ads on TV. I'll be so glad when November 5 comes and the ads, blogs, e-mails, etc., will be gone.

Here's a great story.

Tim Hill has an interesting take on the election.

Alan Hirsch answers an important question.

Are you a faith blogger?

Brother Maynard takes on the church leadership culture.

Len at NextReformation talks about "church".

This has good potential. (HT: Jonathan Brink)

This is amazing!

Michael Spencer is a reductionist?

This just isn't right. (HT: Scot McKnight)

Internetmonk does an interview with Julie Neidlinger about leaving church.

Good post on textual criticism. (HT: Conservative Reformed Mafia)

Paglia on Palin. (HT: Bob Hyatt)

Camille Lewis takes a look back.

It looks like God is going to be making some changes around these parts. We'll see what happens.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

World Vision Opportunity

For those of you in the Charlotte, NC area, World Vision is presenting World Vision Experience: AIDS at St. Johns Episcopal Church September 12-15. The church is located at 1623 Carmel Road in Charlotte. You can find more information here.

If you don't live in the Charlotte area you can find out if the tour will be in your area by going to this site.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Autopsy

The subject is dead. The history of the dying is as follows:

Twenty or thirty years ago, the subject had opportunities to broaden horizons and take actions to ensure long term flexibility and health. Like many others, the subject preferred to continue making the same lifestyle choices that were good during the early years, but that had outlived their usefulness. The subject not only refused to make needed changes, but began to speak out against those who did change and refused to work with them in the community. I believe this is the point when the subject began to die.

As the years went by, the subject became further entrenched in the old ways, even as life and vitality continued to wane. Friends and family members began to leave and find others to spend time with. The subject began to shrink and muscles began to atrophy. A form of dementia set in and the subject began to withdraw and close out the rest of the world, only opening the door to the occasional visitor. Visitors were few and far between, and those who did come quickly realized that the subject's ways of believing and acting were not for them.

The old caretaker retired, and a new one arrived with dreams of revitalizing the subject. What the new caretaker and the subject's few remaining friends didn't realize was that the subject was already too far gone. Due to a lack of action, the muscles had deteriorated to the point where some of them had actually disappeared. This caused some of the internal organs to also lose function and die.

The subject was placed on life support in an attempt to keep certain functions working. These functions were seen as essential to the caretaker and those still gathered around the subject. What they didn't realize was that the way these functions were performed, even some of the functions themselves, were actually contributing to the subject's demise.

During the last few years life continued to drain out of the subject. Even the children, whom the subject professed to love, stopped coming around. Many of the ones who worked so hard to revitalize the subject have gone elsewhere.

The subject was declared dead on Sunday, September 8, 2008 at 11:00 AM. Artificial life support will probably continue, but any real life is gone.

Friday, September 5, 2008

TGIF

We enjoyed a nice weekend visiting my sister and her family and going to the beach. It was a four day work week, but it was busy. On Tuesday I had to help break up a fight between two sixth graders. It's amazing how strong two boys can be when they're really angry at each other.

I have a lot of stuff rattling around my head, but nothing to put in writing yet. So, I'll just give you some of what others far wiser than me have written:

A Time To Laugh thinks back to the good old days(?)

Molly drops the F-bomb.

Rachel has finally picked a side in the political debate.

Bob Hyatt is feeling a bit of a chill.

Jesus Creed asks a good question about elders.

Kamp Krusty ranks ministries.

Jeff McQ has some good pics from Gustav, and asks about the kids.

Brother Maynard list ten movies to make us think.

How the entering college freshman class is thinking. It makes me feel old. (HT: Brother Maynard)

Good shopping site. (HT: Tall Skinny Kiwi)

Emergent Village has a blogologue going on between Bill Easum and Tony Jones. It begins here.

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