Monday, December 20, 2010

A Poem for Christmas

People rushing to and fro
Traffic steadily building

Black Friday is going to save us all
Buy, buy, buy

Can't afford it? No matter
Take a year to pay the bill

It's your patriotic duty
Spend, spend, spend

What are we thinking?
We're missing something here

Do we have a clue?
Do we know what Christmas means?

The prophets knew
They predicted it

The angels knew
They sang about it

The shepherds and the wise men knew
They came and worshipped

Herod knew
He tried to have this rival killed

Christmas is a celebration becauseThe King has come
Yet we enthrone our own comfort

Worshipping the golden calf of Wall Street
We lust after power
Political, economic, social

We have forgotten something
We have forgotten this

The King has come
All the kingdoms on earth are His

The King has come
We are His

The King has come
Let us celebrate Him!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mary's Song

This is reposted from a couple of years ago:

The other day, I was thinking about the song of Mary in Luke 1. It was actually a pretty subversive thing to say in that day. I was wondering what Mary's song would sound like in the 21st Century.

Who would be the rulers in today's world? Who would be the proud? Who are the rich? Who are the humble and the hungry?

What in our consumer driven culture could the song speak to? What would Mary have to say to the Church?

What does it mean today that the King has come and is coming again? What would happen if those of us who say we follow this King lived as if we really did?

Just some questions rolling around in my head.

Any thoughts?

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Christ is Coming: Christine Sine

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

If you are looking for last minute Christmas gifts, you can still provide a gift that will change a life. Check out the World Vision gift catalog here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Third Sunday of Advent

This season can be a stressful time with all the busyness that can capture our attention. As we anticipate the celebration of Jesus' birth and look ahead to his return, let our joy be unrestrained and infectious.

Enjoy:

Friday, December 10, 2010

TGIF

This has been a busy week. Basketball season began this week. My team has started slowly, but there is a lot of potential for a really good season. We'll see. It's still frigid here in the sunny South, and it looks like it's not going to warm up anytime soon.

Here is the good stuff:

Matt Mile on encouraging untruths.
God with us, from Lisa Dye.

Matthew Paul Turner has an interesting picture.
Scot McKnight rants about leadership.
Ronnie McBrayer on religion...and underwear.

Jared Wilson says we will outsing the enemy.

Alan Knox has a series on the dangers of Sunday. Part 1 is here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Millions of children around the world are victims of trafficking. Some are able to escape. Here is the story of one who made it out.

Friday, December 3, 2010

TGIF

It's been an unusually chilly week here in the sunny South, with lows dipping down into the twenties. We had a great time last weekend visiting Jan's sister and her family in West Virginia. It was nice to get together with her family. Jan and I went to our town's Christmas parade tonight. It's the first time we've been able to go in the fifteen years that we've been here. It was a good parade, and the downtown area looks nice all lit up.

Here are this week's top links:

This is pretty cool.
Thoughts from Donald Miller.



Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Waiting

There is a lot of waiting this time of year. Shoppers wait in traffic so they can get to stores and wait in line to pay for their merchandise. Students (and teachers) wait for vacation to start. Children wait to see what gifts they will receive. Other people wait for the season to be over. One thing that seems present in all the waiting is stress and conflict. Sometimes the very act of waiting causes the problems.

The people of Israel were waiting. Waiting for the promised Messiah, waiting for God to speak again, and deliver his people. They had been waiting a long time. Today, we wait for that same Messiah to return and deliver us. It has been a long time.

Some in Israel had grown tired of waiting and were content with just getting by. Others had put their hopes in their religious rituals, or political works. Before we are too hard on them, let us ask ourselves how we are waiting. Are we waiting for a trip off this old earth, up into the sky? Are we waiting for the right leaders to be elected or the right laws to be passed to turn our nation back to God? Have we given up and been reduced to just getting by?

We are told to not become weary in doing good. Jesus is King, and one day he will return and set
everything right again. Their will be justice, mercy, and peace. Creation will be renewed. The Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. That is what we wait for. That is what we long for.

This Advent season remember that we wait in anticipation of a Kingdom that is here now, and is still to come. We wait in anticipation and in hope.

Monday, November 29, 2010

How Far Would You Go?

This was posted a few years ago.

The other night I was watching American Idol (no, I'm not really a fan - I was watching it with my son, who is a fan). Anyway, there was this girl who came on knowing she has no singing talent at all. She wanted to go on to Hollywood so the Idol people could teach her to sing and remake her into a pop star. She was desperate to move to the next round, and I wondered just how far she would have gone to get there. If Simon and the others were cruel enough, how much would they be able to put this poor girl through, how much would she have put up with to become famous - to become the next American Idol.

I was going to write something about how easy it is to allow ourselves to be caught up in being "famous", popular, well liked, etc. But instead, I'll ask how far we who call ourselves followers of Jesus are willing to go to be taught by him and to be remade into his image. Do we say, "Yeah I want to follow Jesus, just don't ask me to give up my dreams of a great career, or to spend time with those who are outside of the mainstream, or to get my hands dirty serving the poor and needy."? Or, are we like Peter, who was willing to get out of the boat and risk drowning to be like his Rabbi? Do we want a Savior who gives us all sorts of good things and wants us to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. Or are we willing to do whatever it takes and take whatever comes our way if it will form us into the image of Jesus.

Which Jesus do you follow?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Sunday of Advent

As the season of Advent begins, we remember the longing of the ancient people of God for the coming of the Messiah. We also think of our own longing for Christ's return and the culmination of the restoration of all things.

Enjoy this video by Christine Sine:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving

Thursday is Thanksgiving, the day set aside to stop and reflect on the things that we are thankful for. Then we fall asleep watching football. The good thing is that many people really do stop and think about their blessings.

There is much in my life for which I am thankful. First, and most importantly, I am thankful that the Creator of the universe is my Abba, and that he calls me son. I am thankful that I am a coheir with Christ of all things. I am grateful for God's love and grace, and for his patience with me.

I am thankful for my family. I was blessed to grow up with a mom and dad who loved me unconditionally, and taught me a lot about following Jesus. I am thankful for my sister and her family, and for their love. I am thankful that they live relatively close. I am extremely thankful for the wonderful woman who shares my life. Jan is a blessing from the Father, and her love and support are essential to me. God has allowed us the privilege of bringing up two fantastic children. Josh and Jennie have given us countless wonderful memories, and we continue to be very, very proud of them. I am thankful for my in-laws. I have always felt loved and accepted, and Jan's dad continues to be a strong support to us.

Like many folks in today's economy, I am thankful I have a job. Beyond that, I am grateful to have a job where I can see a bit of difference made in what I do. I enjoy working with the middle school kids, and love the opportunity to coach the high school basketball team God has given me.
I am thankful for the things God has taught me over the last few years. My faith has been tested and stretched, and my dependence on the Father and my love for Jesus has deepened. Although their are still areas where the answers aren't there, I am comfortable with the questions. I am grateful for the community God has led us to. We are a fellowship that is committed to loving God and loving each other. We are learning to open up to each other and accept each other, warts and all. We are seeking to live as free people in Christ and to help others find that freedom. The folks in our community have become a family, and they are all a real blessing to us.

I am thankful for the friends I have made along my journey so far, and for the ones who will come along later. I am grateful for those of you who read this blog, and for those who write the things that God uses to teach me. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I am extremely blessed.

I will have limited computer access for the next few days, so the blog will be silent. I hope your Thanksgiving is blessed. Enjoy the day, and spend a bit of time thanking God.

Monday, November 22, 2010

God's Response to the "War on Christmas"

James Stillwell posted this a few years ago. It's titled, "God's Response to the 'War on Christmas'". With Black Friday kicking off the Christmas shopping season this week, this is worth a read.

Dear Children,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just get along and love one another. Now, having said, that let Me go on.

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can and may remember Me anytime you see any tree.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list :

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

4. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

5. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hot-Line: they talk with people like that every day.

6. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day, they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

7. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.

8. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to some charity that believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

9. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Sincerely,

-God

P.S. Don't forget, I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work, time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those you love and, remember, I love you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

TGIF

In two hours, it will be Saturday. However, it's still Friday, so it's time for everyone's favorite links post. Or not.

Here they are:

More medals for murder?
Contradictions.
Squirrel brain.
Good, honest thoughts from Tim Hill.
Alan Knox says that we're not "called out."
Self-disclosure.
God's fool.

Exquisitely suited.
An iMonk classic.
The "one" always counts.
Bill Kinnon recommends a couple of books.
So is there a NeoReformed/New Calvinist movement, or not?
Secularizing Kingdom.
Secession? Really?

Have a great weekend. I pray that each of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you are able to spend time with those close to you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Did you know that the sweet potato can be a life saver for people in drought stricken areas? Read this to find out more.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Am Sad Today

My heart is grieving today. Today would have been the 11th birthday of a little girl named Zahra Baker. She is the girl who was reported missing over a month ago, and whose remains are being found in various places. Those of you who live in the Charlotte area are familiar with the story.
My heart is grieving, but it also cries out for justice. I must admit that a large part of me asks for no mercy for someone who would abuse, and then kill, a child. Another part of me wonders what could cause someone to commit such unspeakable acts, and wonders at the injustices along the way that allowed this.

I could probably come up with a long list of failures on the part of people that caused this tragedy to happen. The whole story has not come out, but there was allegedly abuse at home. I don't know how many visits social service workers made, or if they noticed anything amiss. Relatives have said that they knew that things were not good at home. One of them was quoted as saying that Zahra had a horrible home life, and that, "this was something...we knew was going happen." The family's neighbors had not seen the girl out of the house for at least a month, and some of them didn't even know she lived there. My heart grieves for a world where relatives know something is going on and feel, for whatever reason, unable to step into the situation. I grieve for a world where neighbors don't know what is going on in the lives of those around them.

I am not condemning the relatives or neighbors in this case. I don't know their situations, so I have no right. What I do know, and what breaks my heart is that we live in a world where we have shut ourselves off from our neighbors, or in some cases, our own families. We leave our houses in the morning, drive to work by ourselves, spend our day barely interacting with our coworkers, drive back home, where we shut the door to the outside world. At the most, we wave to our neighbor as we drive away. How many of us spend time with those who live around us, getting to know them as people? How many of us who call themselves followers of Christ spend time with our neighbors without an agenda to "get them saved?" How many of us see them as beings made in the image of God, rather than as those on the "outside?"

Abuse and other problems happen in churches just like they do "out in the world." We don't pick up on these things because we do not build deeper relationships. How many of us really know those we call brothers and sisters in Christ? How many churches are filled with folks who show up on Sunday morning, settle into their comfortable seat, sing a few songs, listen to a stirring (or not) talk, then get into their cars and drive back home, waiting until the next week before they see anyone in the church again? Even many of our small groups are superficial, and don't let any "fellowship" delve into what is really going on in our lives. We worship with people who look like us, think like us, and drive the same quality car as us. We make sure that our time together is spent on things that don't unmask us, so we accumulate more knowledge. We equate discipleship to imparting knowledge about Scripture and the spiritual life rather than pouring our life into the life of another person. We are afraid to let others inside the wall, because we fear what they might say. We fear rejection or condemnation.

My heart grieves. It also cries, 'Enough!" It is time for the body of Christ to stop acting like a bunch of unconnected parts, and begin spending time with one another, building into each other's lives. This will be revolutionary for many in the institutional church, because it will mean that the majority of our time will need to be spent in going from house to house rather than from meeting to meeting. We will spend more time building relationships than building programs. Our money will go to help individuals in need instead of a building program. We will know who has need and giving will come naturally, not from a "benevolence ministry."

Relationships are not easy. They can be very messy, and sometimes painful. The alternative is continuing in the, "How are you doing?" "Fine," way of dealing with people. We can let down our guard and develop deep relationships fueled by love, or we can stay on the surface and never get to know others. We can know people and be known well enough to step in and help when it's needed, or we can say we never saw it coming when the world collapses on them. We can be the body of Christ, or we can be people who just "go to church."

Choose wisely.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Being Real

A few years ago, there was a thread on theooze.com titled "Which story are you in?" As I thought about what story I was in at the time, I thought of one of my favorite all-time stories - "The Velveteen Rabbit". The story is about a stuffed rabbit who becomes real because of the love of a little boy.

As I thought about all that has transpired in my journey the last few years, I thought how God's love is making me "real." The process has not been without pain. In the story the Skin Horse tells the Velveteen Rabbit that becoming real may hurt but that when you do become real you don't mind the hurt. So it is with being formed into the image of Christ - the hurt pales in comparison to the final result, so in some sense you really don't mind it.

The Skin Horse also said that while you might not seem real to others, the one that matters is the one that is causing you to become real through their love. Again that has its parallel in the process of becoming like Jesus. You come to the place where the only one whose opinion of you matters is God.

Obviously, I have a long way to go in the process of becoming real. But God is working.

What story are you in?

Friday, November 12, 2010

TGIF

For some reason it seems like this week has gone by a bit slower. It's been busy, and that usually means the time passes quickly. Anyway, Friday is here and that means it's time for the links of the week. Enjoy.

A narrative.
Shift-F7.
Post-election musings.
The passing of the greatest generation.

Why imonk was weary of weird Christians.
Test everything.
On reading the Bible.
It takes a movement.

Not the gospel of Left Behind.
Kansas Bob waxes philosophical.
Jared Wilson shares his view of gift giving.
Imagining the impact.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Screen in the Corner

In What Good is God?, Philip Yancey tells the story of the brave young woman who helped spark the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine. The opposition candidate, Victor Yushchenko, having already faced an attempt to poison him, had a 10 percent lead over the government candidate on election day. The government then tried to steal the election.

The state-run television reported the election results in favor of the state's man. What the authorities forgot was the small inset in the lower right hand corner of the screen, where a young woman provided sign language interpretation for the hearing-impaired. While the announcer was trumpeting the defeat of Yushchenko, this courageous woman was signing, "I am addressing all the deaf citizens of Ukraine. Don't believe what they are saying. They are lying and I am ashamed to translate those lies. Yushchenko is our President!" No one in the studio understood sign language. The message spread like wildfire and within days a million Ukrainians descended on Kiev and demanded new elections. The government was forced to give in, and Yushchenko became president.

Yancey makes the point that this is what the church should be, a small screen in the corner announcing that what the big screen is blaring is a lie. Those who control the big screen are telling us that our worth hinges on how we look, how much we make, what we wear, or what we do. As we look at the screen we see the bright and the beautiful, the rich and the famous, the powerful, those who are famous for simply being famous. The message is that we should strive to be just like them. That is the message we see on the big screen. Unfortunately, the message that is exported to the rest of the world is that everyone in "Christian" America is rich, spoiled, and decadent. And we wonder why so many hate Christianity throughout the world.

We have a perfect example of the small screen in the One we claim to follow. The big screen of first century Judaism told folks that the healthy, wealthy, and wise were the ones who could expect God's favor. The kingdom of God was reserved for them. Along came Jesus, proclaiming that the kingdom was open to the downtrodden, the poor, the outcasts, the very ones that were seen as unworthy. His kingdom would not be built on military might, or on wealth, or on religious tradition. It would be built on love, and the ones on the bottom would enter before the movers and shakers of society. This message is even more revolutionary than the one which sparked the Orange Revolution.

The problem is that much of the church has either tried to control the big screen or has put up an imitation screen. We have our version of the rich and famous. Just watch Christian television. Take a look at the shelves in Christian bookstore, or the speaker lineup at any conference. Many of those people are fine folks with good ministries, but I don't think you could argue that there is not a cult of personality out there. We just don't do a very good job of broadcasting that subversive message that our Lord proclaimed.

Although there is still a great deal of "big screen Christianity," there are those who are working in the corner, spreading the revolutionary message of a kingdom that doesn't come with great fanfare, but arrives quietly and spreads like yeast, working its way through. It's a kingdom that is built on sacrificial acts of love, not displays of might. Its subjects lay down their lives for each other, rather than using them to climb the ladder.

May their tribe increase.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

In Romania, a generation of HIV infected women is giving birth to children at risk of contracting the disease from their mothers. For more information, and to find out how you can help, look here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Where Do You Stay?

One of the things about working with young African-American students is the things you learn. I have noticed that they will ask someone where they "stay" while I would ask where they "live". I was thinking that maybe they are closer to speaking correctly than those of us who speak "good" grammar. The house that I share with my wife is the place where I stay when I am not out at work, etc., much like someone stays at a motel. But I "live" everywhere I go and in everything I do. I'm certainly not dead when I am away from home.

Now, think of the words "church" and "worship". Growing up, I was always taught that "church" is the place you go to a few times a week to "worship" God. You know, "This is the church, this is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people." I have since come to the realization that this is not the correct way to use these terms. The little ditty should go, "This is the building, this is the steeple, open the doors and see the church." And since we are the church, we continue to be the church everywhere we go and in everything we do. In the same way, "worship" is not just something we do a couple of times a week in a "worship service". Worship is what the followers of Jesus should be doing in each thing we do. It should be in the fabric of our being. The weekly service is the church coming together to do corporately what they have been doing individually throughout the week. Our Sunday worship should be an overflow of what we are about the other six days.

Think about the difference it would make in our lives as individuals and as congregations if we re-thought those two terms (as well as others.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

TGIF

Another campaign season has gone by, and the smears and half-truths have been put away, for awhile. The political landscape has changed, and it remains to be seen how it will all shake out. It's getting cold here. We have a freeze warning tonight, and it seems to me like it's earlier than usual. I don't know.

What I do know is there is some good stuff out there in blogdom. Here is a sampling:

Kansas Bob has written an open letter to the President.
Recovering our creativity.
Kathy is creating messes.
Evangelicals, elections, and blindness to sin.

Donald Miller writes about the fear of doing.
A paint-by-numbers life.
Jeff Dunn writes about creativity overcoming safety.
It takes a movement.

Scot McKnight on the eschatology of politics.
Unfree in Christ.
Bill Kinnon asks why big name Christian leaders aren't decreasing.
Woodpeckers on the wall.

Mark recommends payperform.
A community with no one in need.
Jonathan Brink writes about anger.
No money, mo problems.
Alan Knox on community.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Without treatment, HIV-positive moms have a one-in-three chance of infecting their children. Yet a few simple measures can dramatically reduce these odds. The problem: Too many moms can't access the HIV care they need. But we can help give the next generation an AIDS-free future. See how you can be a part of the solution.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Don't Forget


  • A few years ago I watched a video from the "That the World May Know" series. It was titled "Walk as Jesus Walked: Don't Forget Us". It's about following Jesus in suffering and persecution. I'd always thought that while Christians in countries such as China or the Sudan were suffering for their faith, we here in the "Christian" West had it easy. And that is true to a great extent - the biggest thing we have to worry about is having someone make fun of us. The video showed me something that I had never thought of before. In 1 Corinthians 12:12, 26, Paul writes, "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ....If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."

    Do we suffer with the parts of the body that are going through persecution and suffering? Do we even know when they are suffering? I think the fact that we generally don't enter into or even know of the suffering of our brothers and sisters is because we have lost that sense of oneness in the body that the early church had. Most of the time we don't even know the struggles that others have in our local churches, so how do we expect to know what goes on around the world? There is no excuse for not knowing what is going on out there. Voice of the Martyrs and other organizations are constantly giving accounts of the suffering in the body. It does take a little work, but it can be done. Find out.

    If you want an object lesson about what it means when the whole body suffers because of one part, hit your thumb hard with a hammer. Then tell me if your whole body feels it or if you can keep the effects localized on your thumb. That is how the body of Christ is. Or at least how it should be.

    Find out how your brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering. Pray for them. Let their suffering affect you. Above all - never forget them.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fear

I'm sitting in my living room, watching the Restore Sanity and/or Fear rally with John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. There is a lot of funny stuff going on, but in the midst of the fun and games, there is a message that rings true and seems to be very appropriate this weekend. One of the things Colbert and Stewart are going back and forth about is fear. Colbert rants about fear, and Stewart tries to counter him. There were many media examples of things that we should fear, from both ends of the political spectrum. Most of the fears are overblown, and only serve to stir people up.

The reason I think the timing of this rally is appropriate is that this is the weekend that many in the church fear the most: The "Devil's holiday," otherwise known as Halloween. It is also the time of year when productions like "Helloween" and "Judgement House" use fear as a means of evangelism. The month of October, especially the last week, is the most terrifying month on the church calendar. Many Christians try to avoid Halloween completely, sitting in the basement and pretending they are not home. Their kids are not allowed to participate in the festivities. Others gather together and have celebrations with others because they want their kids to be able to dress up and get candy. These gatherings have names like "Trunk or Treat," or "Harvest Festival," and are attempts to Christianize what they see as a pagan holiday. When our children were growing up, we were in that second category.

I believe that we should all live according to our convictions, but those convictions should not be based in fear. In this article that I linked to yesterday, the author states that the celebration of All Saints began in the 300s, and that the date of November 1 and the night before was fixed on the church calendar in the 700s. The idea of celebrating the saints came about as a way of saying that Satan and death do not have the last word. The saints are alive. The author makes the point that the church has looked for ways to mock Satan throughout the centuries, including picturing him in a red suit with a tail. From gargoyles on churches to Martin Luther choosing October 31 as the day when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door, the Christians have chosen to mock Satan rather than cower in fear. And he should be mocked, because he has been defeated.

I know that Scripture says that the Devil roams around like a lion, looking for folks to devour, but I think that means something other than living in fear because some people claim evil stalks the land at the end of October. There are more important things to be concerned about, and their are many other ways Satan tries to steal, kill, and destroy. He is alive and active in this world, but Scripture does tell us that the One who is in us is greater. Satan and his greatest weapon, death, is defeated because Jesus was raised from the dead. We are not given a spirit of fear, but rather, a spirit that calls God Abba. If the creator of the universe is our Father, should we fear anything? I think not.

So, go out and celebrate Halloween. Or not. Whatever you choose to do, do it out of conviction that is based on faith in a God who is all powerful, not a feeling of fear.

Friday, October 29, 2010

TGIF

It's been a stormy week. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes across the country, and of course all the campaign ads. I, for one, will be glad when the voting is done and the ads are no more, at least for a while. The fall leaves are beautiful here, and it's almost time to bring the plants in from the back porch.

On to the good stuff:

I don't know if I want one of these or not.
I wish I had read this when my kids were young.
This is funny.
I really like this.
These are some guidelines for Halloween.
Some think that Lost should have ended like this.

The church is a who?
In defense of women.
Faith can be found, but not forced.
If Jesus were a candidate.
Old is new again (HT: Josh).
Do Christians contribute to society?
Take the God test.

Art, beauty, and craftsmanship.
A conversation we must have.
Profoundly human.
Where children learn they matter.
Superhero or thorn?
With great power comes great responsibility.
The art of glory (HT: Scot McKnight).

Enjoy your weekend. Don't take any tainted candy. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

As Haiti continues the struggle to rebuild, another blow comes along in the form of Cholera. The outbreak of this disease is hampering relief efforts. To donate to the work of World Vision in Haiti, go here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back Roads

This is something I wrote a little over four years ago. It still is true.

I love back roads. When I travel, I would rather take back roads than the interstate any day. I enjoy seeing what lies in those places that most people just zoom by in their hurry to get to their destination. I like exploring and am usually willing to go out of my way to see what I can see.

What is interesting (to me anyway) is that my journey following Jesus seems to be taking me on the back roads. I know people who knew right from a young age what God was going to have them do. I thought I knew, at least in my senior year of high school. One year of Bible college, then two years learning the printing trade. One year turned into five, a youth ministry emphasis turned into a teaching and coaching gig at a Christian school, where I met my wife. After leaving that school, the plans were to get a job in the federal government. Of course, that was the time when the government had a hiring freeze. One year, a son, and a low paying job later, God told us it was time to go someplace else.

A move to Cincinnati brought further adventures. The twelve years we spent there brought a daughter, success in coaching, another job loss, and more education (both formal and informal). After some difficult times the Lord moved us again. This time to Rock Hill, SC.

The place God put us in was in a Christian school where I had applied for a job seventeen years earlier. During my time there I learned how to coach some different sports and how to teach some different subjects. All along God was taking me down some spiritual paths that I had never explored before. I also had the privilege of coaching both son and daughter and watching them grow up. Then, God decided it was time to take another back road.

After leaving that school, I was sure that the road was going to lead to the fulfillment of a long-time dream. I found out that road was closed, and I had to take a detour. The road God put me on led out into the desert, to a dry and empty place where He could teach me more of the things he had already started. After wandering around for a while, I stopped and settled in for what looked like a long stay. The desert school turned out to be sometimes hard, sometimes boring, sometimes frustrating. It was a one-to-one teacher to student ratio, and I had the full attention of my Rabbi. I learned that many of the things I had been taught were not right, that many of my ideas and presuppositions needed to be scrapped. I learned what is really important, what is really essential to following Jesus. I became a disciple of my Rabbi, and finally understood what a disciple really is. Finally it was time to leave the desert.

My journey is still taking twists and turns. But I'm finding out that, even though it may be hard and frustrating at times, I am enjoying exploring some of the back roads and trails that Jesus leads me on. Sometimes I lag behind, sometimes I try to run ahead. But, I am learning that the best way is to follow the Rabbi so closely that I am covered with the dust from His feet. Life is an adventure.

May God bless you on your journey.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TGIF

It's getting cooler here in the sunny South. The temperature tonight is supposed to fall into the 30s, with a freeze warning in the mountains. I have a four day weekend, so Jan and I are going into the mountains on Monday to catch some of the fall colors. Should be nice.

Here are the links:

Jeff Dunn's little light.
Jeff's safe place.
Dan Edelen's sniff test.
The Merry Monk's home.

Al Lindskoog's passion is grace.
Scot McKnight's next book.
Jim Wallis' article on the election season.
Alan Knox hits number 2500.

Crossroads, clowns, credibility.
Are you a demographic? Jeff McQ evidently is.
Money versus wealth.
I don't know how SI could leave out Walt Frazier and Bill Walton (HT: Scot McKnight)

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Ten years ago, the Millennium Development Goals were established. The aim was to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015. With five years to go, will the goals be reached?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Praying

Here's another blast from the past:

In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning quotes M. Basil Pennington on prayer. I'm posting that quote here. There is no need for me to comment.

"A father is delighted when his little one, leaving off her toys and friends, runs to him and climbs into his arms. As he holds his little one close to him, he cares little whether the child is looking around, her attention flitting from one thing to another, or just settling down to sleep. Essentially the child is choosing to be with her father, confident of the love, the care, the security that is hers in those arms. Our prayer is much like that. We settle down in our Father's arms, in his loving hands. Our mind, our thoughts, our imagination may flit about here and there; we might even fall asleep; but essentially we are choosing for this time to remain intimately with our Father, giving ourselves to him, receiving his love and care, letting him enjoy us as he will. It is very simple prayer. It is very childlike prayer. It is prayer that opens us out to all the delights of the kingdom

Friday, October 15, 2010

TGIF

It has been a good week here in the sunny South. It actually rained yesterday, for about five minutes. Jennie has come in from the left coast for a few days. It's good to see her, and we'll have a good weekend together.

Here are the links for this week:

John Armstrong has a good series on postmodernism and the Christian. Part 1 is here.
Ronnie McBrayer has some good thoughts about the future.
Jeff McQuilken on passion.Michael D. Bobo writes about humor.
Todd Hiestand gives a benediction.

Bill has another funny.
Dan Allen on worship.
Alan Knox asks who is qualified.
Jonathan Brink is wrestling with beauty.

TSK asks for transparency in clean water fund raising.
Dr. Terry Dorsett on challenges of bivocational ministry.
Mark Scandrette writes a fable.

Donald Miller on projecting an identity.
Chaplain Mike writes about the life God is in.
Jake Belder on wine at the Lord's table.
Scot McKnight has a series titled "Creation Untamed." Part 1 is here.
Allan Bevere has a series on the faith of America's founders. Part 1 (HT: Scot McKnight).

Have a great fall weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

The Child Protection Compact Act has passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. For more about this important legislation go here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Beautiful Thing

This past Saturday, I saw a beautiful example of the Body of Christ in action. Jan and I went to a fundraiser for a young woman who had been terribly injured in an automobile accident a few months ago. There were numerous things that brought home the fact that those who follow Jesus are one body.

The fundraiser was sponsored and put on by two of the larger churches in our town, one Presbyterian and one Baptist. There was at least one other congregation that donated an item for a silent auction. People came to the festival from different faith backgrounds because they knew the young woman and her family through social contacts, or because they worked on something together. We met people there who knew people who knew people, and we saw folks we hadn't seen in awhile who were connected with us and with the family. Jan and I knew the woman's husband because we both had taught him in Maryland some thirty years ago, and he had recently moved to the town where we live. There are folks all over praying for this family because of the network of connections that has grown up. It shows a bit of the unity of those who belong to Christ.

Imagine what would happen if we realized our unity in Christ all the time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Change is Coming

Change is coming
You can hide from it
You can try to ignore it
You can fight it
You can preach against it
You can try to control it
Or
You can welcome it
You can embrace it
You can learn from it
You can ride it
You can grow from it
But,
You can't stop it
Change is coming
Change is here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

TGIF

Is anyone else getting tired of all the political ads? I listen to one candidate running down the other, and vice versa, and of course neither side is telling the whole story. It seems everyone wants you to vote against something, rather than for something. When we lived in Cincinnati, there was a radio host who would "blow up" all the political radio ads the day after the election. I always enjoyed that.

Anyway, here is a taste of the good stuff from the week:

In this case, silence is not golden.
Donald Miller on meaning.
Why is faith so hard?
Some good quotes.
Is spiritual covering scriptural?
Definitely a karaoke fail.
Worldly lifestyles or Christian freedom?

Don't define your neighbor.
Sinner!
Poverty is a perception.
Discipleship on Christ's terms.
The radical center.
This is funny.
Leading by manipulating?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

More than 13,000 children will die today because of hunger, while Americans will spend almost 1 billion dollars today on eating out. Check this out for a way to help those in need.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Learning

This is something I wrote a few years ago.

I was there
I knew the truth

Then you decided I had more to learn

At first it was easy
The new things were "positive" and encouraging

Then you decided I had still more to learn

Then it was hard

The new things were "negative" and discouraging

Hours of solitude and inactivity
Silence from heaven

I was in the desert
Waiting and waiting. Waiting and wondering

When will it end?
How long will I be out here?

Faith had been mine
But faith was misplaced

My faith was in what you would do
And you didn't do

What is going on here?
Why isn't this working?

You finally spoke
You told me to be patient

You sent me teachers
Those who had traveled the same path

I finally learned
To trust in you

Not in what you might do
But in you as you are

I departed the desert
But I left some things there

Just in case



Saturday, October 2, 2010

When Is Worship?

This morning, I passed a church with a sign that read, "Worship is Sunday, 11:00 AM." I guess that what they meant was that their Sunday service was at 11:00, so potential visitors would know when to show up. As usual, my thoughts went in a different direction.

I think there are many churches that would make the same statement, with the emphasis on the word is. They might not say it with words, but their actions speak loudly. For many Christians, worship is Sunday at 11. That is the event, what church is all about. How many times have you heard people say, "I go to church on Sunday to get refreshed and prepared for the week ahead." Now, it is true that the times we get together with our brothers and sisters in Christ should be refreshing. It is also true that times of teaching and encouragement are needed to enable us to live in this world. We in the body do need each other.

What I take issue with, is the idea that worship is only singing and praying, and that corporate worship only happens when the church gets together in a certain place at a certain time. I believe that worship (declaring the worthiness of God) can happen any place, at any time, and in anything we do. When our community gathers on Sunday morning, that is worship. When we meet at someone's house, and eat together, listening to, and encouraging each other, that is worship. When some of us help one of our number with yard work, or serve meals at a homeless shelter, that...you guessed it. Worship. For the follower of Jesus, all of life is to be worship to the One who gave his life for us. As the Apostle Paul says, eating, drinking, and everything else is to be done for the glory of God.

So, gather with other followers of Jesus tomorrow. Sing praises to God, and be taught. Just remember that there are six more days in the week to gather together and build each other up, six more days to love God by loving others.

Worship is 24/7.

Friday, October 1, 2010

TGIF

We finally got rain here in the sunny South, after about a month and a half of dry weather. The liquid sunshine came down Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. The grass is turning back to its regular green color and is growing again. Of course, that means mowing. I hope I still remember how.

There's a lot of good people writing a lot of good stuff out there. Here is a sampling:

Dan Edelen says we should bury the Proverbs 31 woman.
Al says that diversity is the key to adversity.
Chaplain Mike admits that he doesn't get it.
Jake Belder doesn't like the Gospel vs. religion distinction.
Richard Dahlstrom on the political problem of two kingdoms.
Tim Hill on shelf life.
Jared Wilson gives his 10 reasons for the institutional church.
Jordan Cooper gives his thoughts on church.
Scot McKnight has a good series on hell. Part 1 is here.

Saved in the nick of time.
Kill the spirit of fear.
Learning or winning?
Imitation as flattery.
Don't be religious.
I want one of these.

I'm looking forward to a restful weekend. Monday is Jan's birthday, so if you know her, please
wish her a happy one.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

World Vision has designated October 1 as a day of prayer and action on behalf of the world's poor. You can read more about it here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Exult in What You Do

During the 2006 Winter Olympics, I watched an Italian female figure skater finish her Olympic routine. She had retired in 2002, but came out of retirement just to skate in her home country. She really didn't have a chance to medal, but it was enough for her to skate at home. Near the end of her program she did two spin jumps in a row and nailed both of them. She threw up her hands and you could just feel the joy. I actually got chills and thought that, even though she might not realize it, she was bringing glory to God by doing what she had been gifted to do and thoroughly exulting in doing it well. It reminded me of what Eric Liddell said in Chariots of Fire - "God made me fast, and when I run I can feel His pleasure."

How would our lives be if we recognized what God made us to do, and felt His pleasure when we did it to the best of our ability? What would our witness to the culture look like? I suspect far different than it currently does.

Friday, September 24, 2010

TGIF

This will be the last TGIF... of September. Autumn is officially here, although you wouldn't know it by looking at the temperature. It's supposed to cool down next week, and the temps will actually be cooler than normal for awhile.

Let's get right to the links:

Giving refuge.
Stories of passion.
Church as a drug.
Tribe.
Finding community.

What "we" are missing.
Heaven is thick.
Leadership is not decision making.
The art of disagreement.
Christianity's forgotten man.

Go to Hell.
Shared leadership.
Somewhere today.
Who's in charge? A related post.

Enjoy your first weekend of autumn.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Teflon Church 2

I've been thinking more about the "teflon church". A teflon pan is a useful thing until the teflon wears off. A teflon church is really not useful. Sometimes the cracks need to happen for the church to become what it was meant to be. If that's the case, then I pray that God will remove the "protective covering" that is over so many churches today.

Friday, September 17, 2010

TGIF

Last Friday, I said that it was cooling off around here. Turns out, I was wrong. It's been warmer this week than last. Maybe it'll cool down by October. This afternoon, Josh and I went kayaking on the Catawba River. It was a good workout and the river was beautiful. It was a very relaxing end to the day.

As usual, there's been some good stuff in the blogosphere this week. Here's a sampling:

Here are some good thoughts from Dan Edelen.
Here is a good post about living the questions.
Here are Todd Hiestand's thoughts on bi-vocational ministry.
Here are Matt's thoughts on bi-vocational ministry.
Here is a post from Jared Wilson on sowing justice.
Here is a sign that you might be practicing churchianity.

It's party time!
The myth of independence.
Alan Knox on qualifications and examples.
A family affair.
Circling the wagons.

Beyond redemption?
A Christian defense of irrationality.
Jesus lives in a rehab.
John Armstrong's letter to the North American church.
Why Glenn Beck isn't a big deal.
Show and tell.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Sixty years ago, Bob Pierce asked for his heart to be broken by the same things that break God's heart. God answered that prayer, and the rest is history. To read the rest of the story, go here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teflon Church

Here's another blast from the past:

The other day, I passed a road named Mt. Elon Church Road. At first glance it looked like Teflon Church Road. Since my mind works in mysterious (some would say strange) ways, I got to thinking - What would a teflon church look like?

I imagine it would be a place where nothing "bad" sticks. Things of the outside world would have no effect. The church would be a "safe place" for Christians to gather and get away from "the world". To those looking at it from the outside, it would seem like a place where everybody had it all together, a place where those within were just "holier" than the rest.

Of course, there would be other things that wouldn't stick. Things like compassion for those outside, concern for those on the margins of society, a realization that none of us really has it all together, that it is only by the grace of God that we stand. Things like love for brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those who are neighbors.

Eventually, a teflon pan gets cracks and the teflon wears off. In a church, the cracks eventually happen and what is going on beneath the surface comes out. A pan that has lost teflon is useless and will be thrown out. Fortunately. a church that has lost its teflon can be redeemed and made useful again by our gracious Father.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back To Church?

Tomorrow is "Back To Church Sunday." Churches are making an attempt to get people who have left "church" to come back. I will not be participating, for a number of reasons.

First of all, I haven't left the church. The church is Christ's body. Leaving the church makes as much sense as one of your fingers saying adios to the rest of your body. The institution that most think of when they hear the word "church" is another matter. I have left that building, and I doubt I'll be going back. I don't "go to" church anymore. I do gather with the church, in different ways and in different places. I am part of the church everywhere I go.

The second reason for not being part of the festivities tomorrow is that I believe churches are making a mistake in continuing with the notion that the mission of the church is to go out and get folks to come in and meet Jesus. Jesus told his followers to go. He didn't tell us to stay and invite. For many years we have invited people to come to church with the expectation that they would hear the Gospel, accept Christ, and join the church. One problem with that kind of thinking is that there are plenty of examples of church members and church leaders who live lives that don't match up with the way of Jesus, so folks aren't in a hurry to go someplace that has nothing to offer them (in their opinion).

Many members of the people formerly known as the congregation have got fed up with churches being more concerned with perpetuating the institution than serving their community, with the pastor as CEO mindset, and with the continual push for funds to create more programs and build bigger buildings rather than give to those in need. The culture war has sent some running for the exits. Others have left over a judgmental spirit and lack of grace. Some have departed because they don't believe that you can only minister inside the church building. Still others just didn't fit in.

Maybe churches should have a Sunday to take a good hard look at what they are doing, and see how much of it really fits with God's mission in the world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

TGIF

This week has flown by, maybe because the work part of it only lasted four days. It's cooling down a bit here in the sunny South, and fall is lurking. After a hot summer, I'm ready for some cooler weather.

Here's the good stuff:

Learning to dance with the bride of Christ.
Chaplain Mike is an "egalitarian." Here's why.
Discovery of fire.
Bob Hyatt thinks Christians need to learn to party better.

Jonathan Brink reflects on the Big Tent Christianity Conference.
A narcissist's fantasy.
Seeing through our work to the mountains beyond.
A prayer of remembrance for 9/11.
Talking with Muslims.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Slavery is alive and well around the world. It is estimated that there are 27 million slaves worldwide, many of them children. To learn more about this, visit this page.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Has It Really Been That Long?

Yesterday, I wrote my 400th post on this blog. Wow. 400 seems like such a big number, and I guess it is if your talking about things like weight, or the price of a car repair. Now, if you're talking government spending, 400 is minuscule. When I started this blog almost three years ago, I had no idea where it was going to go. I also had no idea where God was going to take me.

The title of this blog is "On the Journey", because that's how I see life. I am on a journey following Jesus. Occasionally my journey has been on the highways, but most of the time I travel on the back roads. Sometimes the path gets narrow and hard to see, and sometime it goes through dark or deserted places.

In the past three years, Jesus has taken me into places that made me wonder what in the world was going on. Sometimes, when I thought we were going to be out in the sunshine on a nice straight road, our path veered into the woods on a trail so winding that I couldn't begin to see around the next bend. God has taken away dreams, and then given them back in a different form. My duties at my job have changed three or four times, and there have been times that I didn't think I could continue. God has always given me strength.

I have gone from a position of leadership in a church where I tried to influence the congregation toward a "relevant," attractional type of worship service, to a small fellowship that meets in a bagel shop on Sundays and homes, coffee shops, or pubs through the week. Like Anne Rice, I have left "Christianity," or at least what it has become. That doesn't mean I have left the Church, the Body of Christ. I'm not a big fan of amputation. I now believe that the church can gather in a pub and those gathered can grow spiritually more than many who gather in buildings called churches week after week.

I am being more and more, as Michael Spencer put it, reduced to Jesus. I see much of what has grown up around the Gospel, and have a hard time seeing the One we claim to follow. I believe that the church in the United States is coming to a fork in the road, where we must choose to follow King Jesus, or to continue in the civil religion that passes for Christianity.

A lot has changed since this blog began. I expect changes will continue to come, so I'll keep on writing. I have no idea how many actually read this, but I'm thankful for those who have stopped by, even if only for an instant. You have encouraged me with your comments, and I have been introduced to some great bloggers.

Enough ramblings for now. Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Different Socks

I wrote this a few years ago when I was driving a shuttle bus.

While down at Fort Jackson waiting on my group, I saw a bunch of new soldiers in formation getting ready to go to lunch. All of a sudden, one of the drill instructors began to get all over a young man for his socks. His socks! He had pushed them down into his running shoes so they didn't come up as high as the socks everyone else was wearing. It shows that one of the values of the armed forces is conformity. This is a necessary thing for an organization like the military. Non-conformity can be dangerous.

Many Christians like the picture of "Christian soldiers", etc. It's interesting that those who see Christians as part of an army seem to also highly value conformity, as if non-conformity can be dangerous spiritually. This doesn't fit with the Biblical idea of following Jesus. If you look through the Gospels and the Epistles, you can see the emphasis on unity in diversity. The only thing we are called to conform to is the likeness of Christ.

It is time for the church to allow and celebrate the different expressions of faith and godliness that are found in the body.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

TGIF

It's time once again, for TGIF. Yeah, I know it's Saturday, but we can pretend that it's Friday.

Let's get straight to the links:

A good guest post from iMonk.
A challenge.
A good essay on Christians and social justice.
A good perspective on Glenn Beck.

Simple answers to difficult questions.
Really open theology (HT: Scot McKnight).
Pharichristianity.
Trust as an assumption on participation from Dan Allen.
Does anyone really know what time it is?

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Five years ago, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, World Vision stepped in to help with the relief effort. Here is the story of one of the communities hit by Katrina, and the help given by World Vision.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There's a Fourth Question?

Last week, we looked at three questions that Jesus asked people. Those questions are here, here, and here. On Sunday we asked a fourth question: What does Jesus say about us? Here is my answer.

You are forgiven. You are restored. Your sins are gone, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). You are clean. You have been given a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

When the Father looks at you he sees a new creation. He sees a son, a co-heir with Christ to everything he has. The Father sees an individual who he loves, and he is pleased with you. Even though you are a human being who blows it from time to time, the Father knows that the work he has begun in you will be completed. He sees someone who is good, and who is being filled more and more with the Spirit.

Don't let anyone, whether they are a relative, friend, enemy, or preacher, tell you that you are bad, that God is disappointed with you, that you have to try harder to get back in his good graces. You are more than just a "sinner saved by grace." You are a beloved son of the Creator. God's grace is far bigger than your sin. There is nothing you can do to to make him love you any more, and it is impossible for you to cause him to love you any less. As Paul says in Romans 8:30, you are called, you are justified, you are glorified.

Rest in God's grace. Soak in his love. Trust that Jesus is enough. You are a beloved child of the Almighty God. Walk in that reality.

Monday, August 30, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

I'm going to do something a bit different, and post some things I've written in the past. I'll do this on Mondays for a while. Enjoy.

In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning quotes M. Basil Pennington on prayer. I'm posting that quote here. There is no need for me to comment.

"A father is delighted when his little one, leaving off her toys and friends, runs to him and climbs into his arms. As he holds his little one close to him, he cares little whether the child is looking around, her attention flitting from one thing to another, or just settling down to sleep. Essentially the child is choosing to be with her father, confident of the love, the care, the security that is hers in those arms. Our prayer is much like that. We settle down in our Father's arms, in his loving hands. Our mind, our thoughts, our imagination may flit about here and there; we might even fall asleep; but essentially we are choosing for this time to remain intimately with our Father, giving ourselves to him, receiving his love and care, letting him enjoy us as he will. It is very simple prayer. It is very childlike prayer. It is prayer that opens us out to all the delights of the kingdom."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Questions From Jesus 3

We've been looking at three questions that Jesus asked during the course of his time here on earth. The first question was, "Who do you say that I am?" The second was, "What do you want me to do for you?" The third question that we want to consider is, "Do you want to get well?"

This is the question that Jesus asked the man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. At first glance it seems silly, asking an invalid who is waiting to get into the healing waters of the Pool of Bethesda. Of course he wants to get well! Who wouldn't? I think it's interesting that the man didn't answer in the affirmative. He told Jesus that there was no one to help him into the water so he could get healed. There are a couple of ways to look at his answer. I have heard preachers say that he was making an excuse, and blaming his lack of healing on others. These were usually during sermons that were in the "things you can do" genre. When Jan and I were talking about this, she said that maybe he didn't realize there was a way to healing other than going into the water. Jesus, the Healer, was standing next to the man, but he didn't recognize him. I think Jan is on to something there.

It is true that sometimes we say we want to be healed, but we don't want to go through the process of healing. In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis tells of a Ghost who refuses to let an Angel kill the reptile on his shoulder because it would hurt too much. Sometimes being made well is a painful process, and sometimes we think it's easier to live with the brokenness than to go through something that may bring pain, but that will ultimately bring healing and wholeness.

Sometimes, we don't recognize the source of our healing. We look at all the things we think can make us whole. Things like relationships, alcohol or drugs, church activities, work, vacations, or any number of things. We don't recognize that the only one who can heal us is right there. Jesus is the Healer, he is the only one that can redeem our brokenness and make us whole.

If we truly want to get well, Jesus is the only one who is able to heal and make us whole. There may be pain involved, but sometimes healing takes a bit of pain. It's like a doctor cleaning a wound with something that stings. It may hurt for a while, but the end result is worth it.

Do you want to get well?

Friday, August 27, 2010

TGIF

Another week has come and gone. It's been cool here in the sunny South, but the temperatures are supposed to climb the middle of next week. The school year is in full swing. But, what you're really interested in are the links. It's all about the links.

So, here they are:

This is an amazing story.
Power and love.
Good question.
This is good.
Donald Miller on the Bible and Americans.
The small god of modern evangelicalism.

Tim Hill on outsourcing.
Jared Wilson on spiritual greed.
David vs. the rich young ruler.
Atheist's hymnal.
Dan Allen on giving to God.
Art or advertisements?

More schools need this.
It's unbelievable, and sad, that this was needed.
Alan Knox asks, "Will you 'stop'?"
We need more than a map.
Hope in the midst of decline.
Fast food facts (HT: Scot McKnight).

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

The recent flooding in Pakistan has been described as "a slow motion tsunami," and so far has affected 20 million people. Aid does not seem to be coming in very fast. A texting campaign to raise money has fallen far short of a similar campaign for Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake. There is a tremendous need in Pakistan. To find out more, go to the World Vision home page.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Questions From Jesus 2

The second question we're asking ourselves at St. Thomas is the one Jesus asked Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?" The answer that day was, "Rabbi, I want to see."

There are many answers that are given today. Some want Jesus to make them wealthy, or healthy. Some want Jesus to save them and take them to heaven when they die, without getting too involved in their lives. Some want him to end poverty and bring justice to earth. Others want him to punish their enemies. Some of us say that we are above the pettiness of the others, and that we "just want to be like Jesus." Of course, what that means may differ from person to person.

When I think about the question, I wonder. What do I really want Jesus to do for me? I could give the stock answer with plenty of proof texts, but I don't want to do that. I want to, as much as it is possible, answer as one who, like Bartimaeus knows how needy I am. I want to answer honestly, so that means I'm going to have to think a bit.

Who knows? Maybe the answer to the first question will inform the answer to the second, or vice versa.

What do you want Jesus to do for you?

Third Week of Advent: Anticipation

This was first published on December 12, 2012. Jesus, as Israel waited in anticipation for you to come, so we wait. We anticipate your ret...