Friday, October 30, 2009

TGIF

Not only is it Friday, but it this weekend is the time when we get to turn our clocks back an hour. You can get an extra hour of sleep, or you can stay up an hour longer.

Last night, we went into Charlotte to see a work of performance art. The artist is a professor at the University of Chicago who does some pottery and travels around doing performances and teaching at various schools. One of Josh's classes has been working with him on an architectural piece of art. Tonight is the opening of the exhibit.

Faceless International is an organization doing good work to help lift women and girls out of the circumstances that put them into the hands of human traffickers. Check out their website and go here for information on how to win some prizes.

Sad but true. (HT: Tony Jones)
Bob Hyatt finishes his series on submission.
One of the more unique marriage proposals I've ever seen.
Anyone looking for a spiritual father?
If you're famous, you can write a book. Or get someone else to write it and put your name on it.
What if we met to edify one another?

Just in case you were wondering how to worship.
Josh wrote a moving tribute to his grandmother.
Three ways to push iMonk's buttons.
Labels.


I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

World Vision Wednesday

Some of the most heart rending stories coming out of the recent natural disasters in Asia are those concerning the children. To read more and find out how you can help go here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Which Comes First?

No, this isn't about chickens and eggs. Something I heard the other day made me think. I know that can be a dangerous thing, but here goes.

"Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet." I heard this line from Thomas Watson quoted in a sermon I heard on television. I understand the thinking behind this statement. We must realize our need of Jesus before we turn to him. The more we realize just what Christ has done for us, the more wonderful God's grace will become to us. I believe that there is the danger of this teching being abused. I have been in churches, and heard stories of those in churches where the bitterness of sin was preached and hammered into the people to the point where they were beaten down and left with the idea that they were totally worthless pieces of trash.

I wonder though, if there isn't another way of looking at the bitterness of sin and the sweetness of Christ. When I look at Jesus' time here on earth, I see one who interacted with people where they were, and did not throw their sin in their faces (except for the religious ones who thought they had it all together). When "sinners" saw Jesus, they saw someone who loved them and cared about their day-to-day, not a stern judge who condemned them. Seeing the love and grace of this beautiful one led them to the point where they turned from their sin and followed him. Zacchaeus and the woman who anointed Jesus' feet are just two examples. Romans 2:4 states that it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance.

If we hammer at people's sin without showing them the beauty of Christ, we produce folks who know they are sinful and get depressed about it, folks who try their hardest to "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps," or folks who turn away from God altogether. If we can get across to others that Jesus is the most wonderful, beautiful Savior, who has done for us what we can't do for ourselves. Yes we are great sinners. But, there is a great Savior. Instead of trying to make sin more ugly, how about if we made Christ more beautiful, by our words and actions.

How about if we said, "As Christ becomes sweeter, sin becomes more bitter." Or as the hymn writer put it, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Memory

Yesterday, we buried Jan's mom, so there is no TGIF this week.

I'm sure you've all heard various mother-in-law jokes. They are a staple of stand-up comedy and TV sit-coms. Some of you may have experiential knowledge of mother-in-law jokes or stereotypes.

In the thirty one years that I have known Jan, twenty nine as a married couple, I never experienced any of the things that seem to make mother-in-law jokes so popular. From the first time I met Jan's mom, I was accepted and loved. One of the best qualities of Wilma Parkis was her unconditional love that she showed to her family, extending to the men who married her three daughters. We were not just sons-in-law. We were sons. That love was also extended to my mom and dad. It was not really a matter of two families joined simply because of a marriage as it was two families merged into one. Even after we moved away for a few years, our parents continued to get together on a regular basis. When we moved to South Carolina, both sets of parents moved here, and their friendship continued.

At the funeral yesterday, some of the grandsons spoke beautifully of their memories of their grandma. We have heard stories from the nurses and others who were her caretakers at the nursing home where she spent her last four years. All of those accounts stressed her unconditional love for those she met and, most importantly, her love for her Savior.

Wilma Winifred Lazear Parkis (she was proud of that name) was a wonderful wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and great grandmother. We will all miss her, but we are comforted knowing that she is resting in the presence of God.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

World Vision Wednesday

In another two months, it will be Christmas. If you are looking for a gift that is different from the usual and will help those in need, check this out. It's a good way to give a gift without getting caught up in the commercialism that Christmas has become.

Friday, October 16, 2009

TGIF

The past few days it's been cold and rainy in the sunny South. Now, I know that "cold" is a relative term and what we think of as cold is a far cry from what other parts of the country have experienced this fall. But hey, it's cold to us.

Here's the good stuff:

Life as a prayer.
Speechless prayer.
Unfortunately, they are serious.
Part 3 and part 4 of Bob Hyatt's series on wives and husbands.
Our daily bread.
Jonathan Brink understands the critics.

Good thoughts on education.
What are you doing for Halloween?
A brief question from Brant Hansen.
The top 100 live albums of all time (HT: Scot McKnight).

Enjoy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Dancing Spirit

John Fischer posted this at his site. I thought I'd share it with you.

The Spirit of God dances. He can't be tamed. He won't be contained. He refuses to be confined to a weekend retreat, an evening meeting, or a moment of devotion. He doesn't follow schedules, programs, or agendas, and He doesn't wait for His name to be called.

The Spirit of God dances. He dances right under the noses of those who don't believe in dancing; and He dances right on by those who do. He dances through the assemblies of the keepers of the dance, and right on out the door—and no one sees Him go. And as the dancers continue their pantomime, the Spirit of God dances in the streets.

His favorite dancing places are those where the keepers of the dance don't want Him to go, like on smoky stages with microphones that smell of whiskey. The Spirit of God loves sinners and dances best where life spills out on the floor.

Occasionally He dances on the clean, sweet-smelling stages of the keepers of the dance—but not as often as He would like. He dances there when there is pain or grief—whenever life spills out on the floor. But usually the floor is clean and the dance is simulated, carefully choreographed by the keepers of the dance to use only those steps with which they feel secure.

The Spirit of God refuses to be choreographed. His dance is raw, new, and jerky. It's not always pleasing to the eye, but His dance is fresh in the lives of those whose floors have not been cleaned up. It isn't well rehearsed, polished, or perfect; it slips and slides, sometimes innovative and shocking and at other times just exhilarant, but it's always real.

Sometimes the dance turns to mourning, but always there's the dance. Happy dance or sad dance… the Spirit of God always dances.

Most people, even those who pride themselves in their dancing, are afraid of this unpredictable dance. They're afraid of anything they can't control; and His dance is wild, unmanageable—even mad. But most important, it's vulnerable, open to criticism—the quality they fear most. So they must create their own dance of predictable steps and prescribed routines and send all their people through dance school—or outlaw dancing altogether.

But this should come as no surprise. It has always been this way. The Lord of the Dance himself was here once, and it was the same way then. He danced on the keepers' holy days and broke their holy laws. His timing—if not His whole dance—always seemed offbeat. He wanted to turn their empty religious movements into heartfelt, joyous dancing. He wanted them to exchange the grip of the Law for the freedom of the dance. But they thought He was a clumsy dancer, always bumping into their traditions and stepping on their toes. He even danced with the wrong crowd, in smoke-filled rooms, with messy floors.

Once, describing His generation, He declared, "We played the flute for you, but you would not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' "

…and the Spirit of God dances on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Coach Wooden

Today is the birthday of the man many consider to be the greatest basketball coach ever. John Wooden turns 99 today. Any basketball fan who is my age or a bit younger remembers the string of national championships that "Coach" won at UCLA. From 1967-1973, his teams emerged as champions seven years in a row, and they added three more to that streak for a total of ten. During those years, Wooden rarely traveled to recruit. Players came to him, seeking to be part of a dominant program.

Basketball coaches all over the world have studied Wooden's coaching methods. Not just to learn the x's and o's, but to learn the philosophy behind the program. Famous Wooden maxims can be found in countless coaches' offices and locker rooms. Some of the more famous are:

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."

"Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts."

"Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters."

Coach Wooden left a great legacy, not only at UCLA, but all over the world. Happy birthday, Coach.

World Vision Wednesday

World Vision is involved in making lives better all around the world. Here is another success story about a World Vision program to train young women to be midwives in Afghanistan.

Friday, October 9, 2009

TGIF

President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Those of you who know me know that I am no Obama basher. I have some disagreements with his policies, but I have disagreed with every president that has held the office during my adult life. Having said that, I really don't understand the decision of the Nobel committee. They awarded a major prize to an individual who really hasn't done anything. He's only been in office seven months, and most of his energy has been expended on domestic issues. Is this a case of giving someone a prize to motivate them to carry out the actions which the prize honors?

Anyway, here's the important stuff:

When the poor die.
Bob Hyatt is doing a series on wives submitting to their husbands. Part 1. Part 2.
Love is patient.
Alan Knox asks, "what if they thought of the church?"
The bank account of the living dead.
Pam reviews Donald Miller's new book.
iMonk writes a story.
Scot McKnight has a good series titled, "God Hides in Plain Sight." Part 1 is here.
Good challenging story (HT: Scot McKnight).
fr'nklin reviews the Mosaic Bible.
Who would Jesus heal?
Buying or renting?

I have a three day weekend coming up, and I am definitely looking forward to it. I hope your weekend is restful.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Political, Cultural, Whatever Question: Part 2

On Tuesday I asked for opinions on what it would be like if the phrases "In God We Trust" and "under God" were removed from our money and from the Pledge of Allegiance. I received a number of good and interesting comments. Tonight, I'll tell you what I think.

Some of the commenters stated that they thought removal of the phrases would further inflame the culture wars as those on the right see it as another sign of how far down America has come. Others said that it would be a good thing. Still others wrote that it really wouldn't matter.

I do agree that those who believe that America is, or at least has been, a Christian nation would have their worst fears realized. They would see it as another step on the road to perdition for America, and would increase their preaching and efforts against those they see as responsible. Those who say it wouldn't matter have a valid point. America is not a nation that currently honors God and removing those phrases would not change it.

I believe that in the final analysis, removing the phrases could be a good thing for the Church. For too long the Kingdom of God has been confused with the United States of America . That has caused a number of problems, including other nations seeing some of the crap that America exports and associating that with Christianity. There are many in this country who believe that they are Christian because they are American. Add to this the bad theology that equates America with ancient Israel.

We are citizens of the Kingdom of God as well as citizens of the United States. Our first allegiance is to be to Jesus Christ. He is Lord. There are citizens of God's Kingdom in every nation on earth, and not only are they fellow citizens with us, they are our brothers and sisters. We can and should do what we can to make this country the best it can be, we need to remember that America is not the Kingdom of God. If taking certain phrases off our money and out of the Pledge will help the Church to remember who we belong to, then let them be removed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

World Vision Wednesday

I'm sure you've heard of the multiple natural disasters that devastated a number of countries in Asia. If you've seen any of the pictures or watched any of the news reports, you have an idea of how bad it is.

If God would so lead you, please give so the people impacted by these disasters can be helped. You can find out how by going here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Political, Cultural, Whatever Question

While I was reading The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd, something he wrote intrigued me. Boyd suggests that it might not be a bad thing if the words "In God We Trust" were removed from our money and the words "under God" stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance.

I wonder what the effect would be if that happened. Would the effect on the Church be positive or negative? What about American culture in general? What would the short term impact be? Long term?

I would like to know what you think. Don't give your first gut reaction. Think about it and give me your reasoned answered. Thanks in advance.

Friday, October 2, 2009

TGIF

The weather has been beautiful this past week. The lows have been in the 40s and 50s with highs in the 70s. Soon the leaves will be changing color, and things will look nice for a while. We bought a new computer this week. Our dog got tangled up in the power cord and pulled our old Dell laptop off the chair, and it died. We replaced it with an Acer netbook. It takes a little getting used to the smaller size, but it's nice.

Evidently, Starbucks' new instant coffee isn't going over very well.
Experts. Well, maybe.
Jake Belder on Christian fellowship.
iMonk riffs.
Jeff McQ on shedding weight.
Strong words, but needed.
This sounds like a good idea.
This is wild.
Turns out Dan Brown isn't that good of a writer after all (HT: Brother Maynard).
Invite or invade?
Can the Church offer real alternatives?
Morality and narrative law.

Enjoy your weekend.

Fear

Franklin Roosevelt famously said, "...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," as he tried to encourage the American people...