Friday, August 28, 2009

TGIF

History broke into life again this week with the passing of Edward Kennedy. Whether you agree with his politics or not, he had a huge effect on this country during his time as senator.

Other stuff happened this week, some of it in the blogosphere. Here are the links for this week:

Stop taking the Bible so seriously! Amy writes about waiting. Jared Wilson has 5 ways to feel Scripture. Sometimes things happen that change all your plans. Kids these days. Jonathan Brink on questioning authority. Jeff McQ interviews himself on his 500th post. Do you think he needs help? I'm just sayin'. God the cosmic janitor. Dan Edelen on simple genius.

McKnight on Bonhoeffer. The Beloit College mindset list for the class of 2013 (HT: Scot Mcknight). A little while ago, some imonk readers received free copies of Andrew Marin's book, Love Is An Orientation. Here are some of their reviews. Unbelievable. A great explanation of simple church. Lessons from the bush.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Three Years

It's been three years since my mom was freed from her world of disease and pain. There is still sadness as I think back on that time. I know that she will never leave my heart or my thoughts, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I still miss her. I probably always will.

The longer I live and the more I learn, the more I realize how profound Mom's life really was. Dan Edelen writes here about the genius of ordinary, simple saints. That got me thinking about the influence that Mom's simple deep faith had on me. She didn't have any seminary training, yet she knew Jesus. It was obvious in the way she loved my sister and me, and in the way she loved other people. Her life was hard growing up but I never saw any bitterness or hardness in her. You could see in her that she knew her Savior, and that she wanted to be like him. We always went to conservative churches where there was a certain amount of legalism and judgementalism, but I didn't see that in Mom. While she was by no means perfect, she was one of the closest to being like the Master that I have ever known. Mom was a wonderful example of simply living her faith out, and that went a long way to shaping me into the person I am now (at least the good parts).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

World Vision Wednesday

Did you know that just $6 provides 2 insecticide treated bed nets that can keep a child from getting malaria? World Vision is one of the organizations that is working to end malaria around the world.

For more information about the program, look at this site.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Light

Sunday morning we were talking about 1 John 1:5 , where John declares that God is light. That verse is one of the few times where Scripture says God is something. It's hard for me to imagine pure light with no darkness at all. God is light, and that light is so pure that it is impossible for one of us to see God and live. Maybe taking the idea of staring at the sun and multiplying it by infinity might approach the idea of God being light, but probably not.

Now think of Adam and Eve in the Garden before the Fall, spending their time in God's presence. They walked and talked with their Creator. Were they pure enough to be able to see the glory of God and still live? I think that they were, even though I can't wrap my tiny brain around that. Unfortunately, that purity and close relationship was broken by sin, and people could no longer stand to see God. Moses only saw the afterglow of God's presence and had to put a veil on because the people couldn't even stand to look on that reflection of God's glory.

Then along comes Jesus, the One called the Light of the world. He revealed the Father to us and abolished the barrier between us and God by his death, burial, and resurrection. Now we are the light of the world. Think about what that means. If people are to see the glory of God, they will see it in those of us who follow Jesus. Jesus said that people don't take a light and hide it, but rather allow it's light to shine. In the same way, we are not to hide the light of God that is in us, but we are to live our lives in such a way that people see God in us.

I believe that we let our light shine by taking it where the darkness is. If you light a candle outside on a sunny day, there is not much light seen from that candle. In the same way, if the only time we shine is when we are with other followers of Jesus, our light is not going to be as bright. We also can't sit behind walls and lob "truth grenades" at those outside and expect any light to be seen. We need to shine where those living in darkness can see God's light in us.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

And So It Begins

This morning marked the first meeting of St. Thomas Community Church. We had 25 people and filled the room. Frank talked a bit about why we were there, and why we decided to start another church in Rock Hill. We aren't doing this because Rock Hill needs another institution with "church" on the door. We do believe that our city needs more of the body of Christ, and needs for that body to get out and love others as Jesus did. We sang a song, spent some time in prayer, had the Lord's Supper, and spent time hanging out and talking.

It'll be interesting to see how the Father leads in the future. We have plans to do things beyond the Sunday morning time, so we'll see what happens.

Friday, August 21, 2009

TGIF

Now that summer vacation is over and the alarm is waking me up every morning, TGIF means a lot more. We've finished one week of school and there have been a few challenges, but God is gracious. Sunday marks the start of what I hope will be a new community of faith that embodies the grace of the Father in Rock Hill. If you think about it, please pray for the Spirit to guide us and work in us.

Here are some of the links for this week:

From truth to truth. Tim Hill mourns the American icon. This is a great song. Life lessons from Sarah Fujimoto. Who knew parking could be so spiritual? iMonk on evangelical worship settings. Scot McKnight on John Piper and tornadoes.

Alan Knox on spiritual gifts. Learn how to take a photo with and without flash (HT: Brother Maynard). Here is a new way for churches to raise money. A lesson on forgiveness (?) This sounds like some of my camping trips. Is Jeff McQ becoming agnostic? The wisdom of crowds.

I hope you have a good weekend. If you're a surfer, I hear there's going to be some killer waves on the east coast this weekend. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

World Vision Wednesday

“Because World Vision has set an example, I [hope] to pay back by doing social work in order to advocate for the poor and for vulnerable children like me,” says Mayungo.

You can read more of this success story here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obedience Leads To Freedom...

...or does it? I was listening to Steve Brown the other day. He was speaking about a teaching that I had heard all my life and fully believed, until about a year or so ago. This was the idea that obedience leads to freedom. I heard the story about how the fence around the yard allowed the little dog the freedom of running around the whole yard and protected it from the big dogs outside the fence. I also remember preachers talking about how the train tracks allow the train the freedom to run without wrecking. All of this was to emphasize how we need rules and regulations in our lives and how obedience led to freedom.

Now, it is true that rules do allow many things, including our lives , to run smoother in a lot of ways. Sporting events run much smoother with rules, and obeying those rules does bring freedom as you compete. The problem with applying this to our spiritual lives is that is just not true. The Pharisees rigidly obeyed the Law. They even came up with rules to keep people from even coming close to breaking the rules. They not only had no freedom, they didn't realize they were in bondage. We all know people who obeyed all the rules while they were growing up and rejected the faith as soon as they got out on their own. Many of us also know folks who obey and stay in church, yet are obviously not free. Of course, that brings up the question of whether they are obeying God's commands or man's rules, but that's another topic.

We aren't free because we obey. We obey because we are free. Because God has been gracious to us, and has set us free, we can now obey him. Because we are free, we can also choose to disobey. But, because God has given us his Spirit, he works in us to make us more and more like Jesus. That is not to say that we have no responsibility to learn and be a disciple, but rather to say that the strength to do that comes from God and the motivation to do that arises out of gratitude and love. God puts in us the desire to obey. We often fail miserably, but the desire to do what is right and become more like Jesus is from our Father.

It is good for us to realize that it is not our own effort that brings freedom. We are free because of what Christ has done for us. As we sink deeper and deeper into the love the Father has for us, and seek to be more like the Master, we will more naturally do what God wants us to do.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

St. Thomas Community Church or The Church in the Bagel Shop

A long time ago I wrote about how God was calling Jan and me out of the church we were in and how a friend and I were going to plant a church here in Rock Hill. Those plans were put on hold for a while, due to circumstances beyond our control (read: God's timing). Well, it looks like it's going to happen, but not in the way we originally planned.

On Sunday, August 23, St. Thomas Community Church will have it's first ever meeting. We will be meeting at Durango Bagel in the Millwood Plantation shopping center on Herlong Avenue. We'll get together at 9:30 AM for coffee, etc., and begin our meeting around 10:00. We'll wrap things up around 11:00 or 11:30.

Our purpose is to form a community of faith around learning to love God with every fiber of our being, and then taking that outside the four walls to love our neighbors as ourselves. We want to not just go to church, but rather to BE the church.

Anyway, if you're in Rock Hill stop by and check us out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

TGIF

I was going to post last night about something significant that's happening in our lives (at least it's significant to me), but the internet was down at our house. So, you'll have to wait until later. :) All the teachers and staff started back to school this week, and it has been hard adjusting to going to bed and getting up earlier. You would think I'd be smart enough to start adjusting a few days before starting back, but nooooooo...

One thing I have been able to keep up with is my reading, so I can give you, my loyal reader(s) the links I think are especially good. Here they are:

Bill Kinnon reviews Why We Love the Church. Molly is feeling a bit sheepish. Getting back. Jeromy Johnson is wrestling. This guy is just a bit off (Not the writer. The guy in the video). The unfair grace of God. Have you ever listened to the Devil's sermon? What do teachers make? Jonathan Brink on consumerism.

John Armstrong on the teaching of Jesus. Foundational thoughts about church. Alan Knox on unity.

Enjoy your reading. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

World Vision Wednesday

According to UNICEF, more than 250,000 children worldwide are involved in armed conflicts. Some of these children are as young as 7. Over 2 million children have been killed in the last ten years, and an estimated 6 million have been seriously injured or permanently disabled.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

TGIF

This is the last TGIF before summer vacation ends. Beginning next Friday, the letters TGIF will begin to mean more. :) Jan and I spent the past two days at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. We were volunteering at the World Vision table here at the Charlotte site, and were able to sit in on all the sessions for free. We enjoyed it and learned some valuable things. If you've get a chance to go to a Leadership Summit, check it out. It's more than just mega-church CEO type leadership stuff.

Now, it's with great pleasure that I present to you the links of the week:

Holy listening. Sarah Gillis writes the winning entry in the wrecked.org social justice writing contest. Dr. Lewis thinks we should all listen to this. Jared Wilson gives us 25 evangelical myths. Alan Knox on distractions to worship. Planetshaken, but not stirred. Jonathan Brink on true fundamentalism. Interesting series on Genesis one. Part 1 is here. John Armstrong asks if we have a theological deficit. Jeff McQ has been rethinking his views on worship.

Enjoy your reading and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

World Vision Wednesday

Ten things you need to know about human trafficking:

1. Girls are trafficked into many industries beside brothels

2. Trafficking is visible; trafficking is accepted

3. Dirty jobs fuel trafficking demand

4. People smuggling is not considered trafficking

5. Trafficking victims most often "rescue themselves"

6. Adoption is still a trafficking risk

7. As many as one in five trafficking survivors fall prey a second time

8. Boys and men are trafficked too

9. Disability is attractive to traffickers

10. There is no one profile of a trafficker

For a far more detailed explanation, go here.

Jan and I are going to be at the Charlotte site for the Willow Creek Leadership Summit simulcast tomorrow and Friday. We will be at the World Vision table. If you're there, stop in and say hello.

Weekend Wanderings

Weekend Wanderings will be away for the next two weekends. We're heading out to the Left Coast to meet our new grandchild, who is expect...