Wednesday, June 30, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

For those of you who, like me, have heard of "blood diamonds" and the atrocities they have financed, here is a story of something that those of us who use electronic devices need to be aware of.

Friday, June 25, 2010

TGIF

I am spending most of this weekend coaching basketball at a team camp, so TGIF is taking a break this week.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Church as Family

This past Sunday in our gathering, we were talking about gathering together as a church, and what it means to be a church. One of the points that was made was that we aren't the church because we gather together, but that we gather together because we are the church, and we gather together as the church because we are family. We are children of our heavenly Father, therefore we are brothers and sisters. As Sister Sledge sang back in the day, we are family.

Now the term family conjures up different pictures for different people, some good and some bad. For me, regardless of the picture presented in many TV shows, the idea of church as family means several things. First, it means that we carry the same spiritual DNA. We have the Spirit of God within us, and we are God's children. We are one because we have the same Father. The second thing family means is loyalty. The saying "blood is thicker than water" can be applicable here. People will do almost anything for those in their family, sometimes going to outrageous lengths. As I was growing up, my sister and I would tease each other and get into arguments from time to time, but woe to anyone outside our family who would try to hurt the other. Jan and I have also stressed that attitude of loyalty with Josh and Jennie.

Another aspect of family is the idea that certain responsibilities come with being a family member. Certain things are expected simply because of who you are. Of course, we all fail at different times, so one of those responsibilities is forgiving and restoring the erring family member. That is sometimes hard to do, but we do it because we are family. A fourth thing that family means is a willingness to give help when it is needed, and to receive help when we need it. This a two-sided coin. On the one hand we are ready to give to family when it is necessary. The flip side of that is being willing to ask for help. It's easy sometimes to help others, but it can be a difficult thing to ask for help. Difficult, but necessary.

The final and most important thing I see in family is love. Love makes all the other things possible, and it is because of God's love that we are family. Love can be difficult, even in families. Love opens us up and leaves us vulnerable, and sometimes family members hurt us. Sometimes we may be very good at extending love to others, but have a hard time receiving it from others. Both are needed in a family. Love, given and received, is the oil that makes a family run smoothly.

May God help us to be fully functional family.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers' Day

Today is a day when fathers are remembered. It is a day of feelings, some good, and some bad. There are many who have loving Fathers, and today is a day of celebration. Others have absent or abusive fathers, and today is a day of hurt feelings. Still others have fathers who have passed on, and today is a day of remembrance. For me, this fourth Father's Day since Dad passed away has been such a day.

Along with remembering my own father, I have been thinking today of the great privilege it is to be a father. This is my twenty-eighth Fathers' Day, and I can say that I have been blessed beyond measure with my son and daughter. Those years have had their ups and downs, but I wouldn't give them up for anything.

They say that having a child come into your life changes things, and that is certainly true. Not only does it change your lifestyle, it also causes you to become a student again. The lessons are not presented in a classroom, but are taught right in the middle of life. Sometimes the lessons are simple, and only need to be learned once. Other times the lessons are hard, and need to be repeated. The classroom is also a place of danger, for unlike an algebra or science lesson, failure to learn can have negative life-changing results. On the flip side, successful learning can have results that can be amazing.

*WARNING!* BRAGGING ALERT!

My heavenly Father has been gracious to me. Through the years of teaching and learning, Josh and Jennie have grown into young adults who are a source of great pride to Jan and me. They successfully navigated the teenage years, and have done well in the world of higher education. Josh has earned an undergraduate degree in mass communications, and a Master's in architecture (anyone know of any firms that are hiring? :) ). Jennie earned a bachelor's degree in graphic design and photography, and created the marketing department at a visual effects studio in Los Angeles (look up Stargate Studios on youtube). I am confident that both of them will be successful in what their careers.

The thing that brings me more joy than their academic and career success is the knowledge that both of them have grown into responsible, caring individuals who are not afraid to walk a different path. They both have a heart for helping those less fortunate, and seeing God's justice carried out in this world. If you are fortunate to have one of them as your friend, you have a friend that is loyal.

They are not afraid to ask questions, and are not satisfied with stock answers. Their relationship with Jesus has not followed what some would say is standard path, but their love for him is evident. The Father has had his hand on each of them from birth, and he is forming them into the image of Jesus. The Kingdom will benefit from the grace and glory of God shining through them.

As you may have guessed by now, I am extremely proud of my children and grateful to God for allowing me the awesome privilege of being their father. Josh and Jennie, I love you beyond words, and I am thankful for you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

TGIF

This past week has been busy. I am driving a shuttle bus for a local camp. In the mornings I pick campers up in Charlotte, and in the evening I take them back. In the time in between I have been coaching my junior varsity girls basketball team in summer league. Tuesday night we got together with my friends at St. Thomas, and Thursday night we had dinner with other members of the camp staff. Along with that, Josh and I have been able to spend some time together watching World Cup matches. Good times.

Here is the good stuff:

Donald Miller has a message for Fathers' Day.
Sometimes it's just plain hard. (Tissue warning)
Put this guy on television.
Knowledge vs. knowing.
Longing for Paradise.

Wooden Gold.
A different way of seeing guardian angels.
Using the Bible to avoid God.
Eagles and hummingbirds.
Rethinking the "still small voice."

Have a great weekend. Sunday is Fathers' Day, so all you dads out there, have a good one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

There are many ways to give to help the poor around the world. Read this story about how medication donated through World Vision saved a child's life in Zambia.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Who Gets In?

Yesterday, we were discussing the Beatitudes in our gathering. When I was growing up, I was taught that the Beatitudes were characteristics of people during the future millennial kingdom. Later, the idea that they were traits that would make us blessed if we cultivated them. In the last couple of years, I've come to believe that neither of these ways of seeing the Beatitudes hits the mark. The first way essentially ignores the teachings of Jesus, or relegates some of them to a time far off in the future, missing the point of the Gospels. The second way turns the Beatitudes into "9 Steps to a Blessed Life," making them another thing we have to do.

In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard makes the point that if we look at the context of Jesus' ministry and the context of the passage, we see that what Jesus is doing is announcing the availability of the Kingdom of God to those were seen as having no chance to enter. The prevailing opinion in first century Judea was that wealth and status were signs of God's favor, and poverty was a sign of sin and disfavor. Sounds like our culture today, doesn't it? Jesus traveled the length and breadth of the land announcing that the Kingdom of God was at hand, and then taught that this kingdom was open to everyone who would follow him, whether or not they fit the image of a righteous person.

Look at the folks who flocked to Jesus. Those on the bottom rung of the ladder, even those who couldn't reach the ladder. The very ones who were called sinners by the religious leaders were the ones Jesus ate and drank with. It was these people who were invited into the Kingdom, and the only requirement was that they follow Jesus and learn his way. In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds his readers that it is not those on the top of the heap who have been called. It is those who are not the best and brightest.

Jesus time on earth turned the entire established religious order upside down. Those who thought they had their kingdom membership card already validated were told that they were wrong, and those who thought that they were hopeless were told that the Kingdom was open to them. Even after Jesus told the people that their righteousness had to exceed that of the Pharisees, they continued to follow him because they recognized his authority.

When we stand before the Father at the restoration of all things, how surprised will we be at who is there? How many will be surprised that we are there? We should not presume to think we know who is a follower of Jesus. He is still in the business of turning expectations upside down.

Friday, June 11, 2010

TGIF

The first week of summer vacation is in the books. The World Cup has started, and it will be interesting to see how the U.S. team does. They have been somewhat inconsistent in the games leading up to the tournament, but they hopefully will set a good tone in their first match against England. The greatest basketball coach of all time died this week. John Wooden was an inspiration to coaches and fans alike.

My blog reading has been a bit spotty this week, but here are some of the good ones:

My daughter Jennie talks about a really cool camera rig.
Lessons in communication.
Sailing in deep waters.
A sign of the apocalypse?

Spiritual, but not religious.
Another spill.
Another viewpoint on mission trips.
Christian bait and switch.

Wandering prayer.
What Jesus cares about.
The myth of the consumerist God.
Do you know your Bible? Part 2.

Thanks for reading my blog. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Looking for a gift for Father's Day that goes beyond the ordinary? Check out the World Vision gift catalog, for gifts from goats to free trade coffee.

Friday, June 4, 2010

TGIF

Today is the first Friday of summer vacation. School is out, and things have slowed down quite a bit. This morning Jan and I continued a tradition began when our kids were young, and went out for breakfast to celebrate the end of the school year. There is a possibility that the summer will bring some more changes, but we'll have to wait and see.

Here is the good stuff:

Catharsis.
Turning charity upside down.
Perhaps.
Avoiding Scary Mary.

Time management fail.
Alan Knox on change.
Reimagining the slippery slope.
I agree with this.

The silence of God.
On being a stumbling block.
"We fail at life."
David Sessions on the American cause.

The ethical gut.
This is pretty funny.
Lut'ran Airlines.
Chasing the wind.

Thanks for reading my blog. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sad Cafe

A few years ago the Eagles sang a song titled "The Sad Cafe". Here are some of the lyrics:

It seemed like a holy place,

protected by amazing grace.

We would sing right out loud

the things we could not say.

We thought we could change the world,

with words like love and freedom.

Part of the lonely crowd inside the Sad Cafe.

I think this is a good picture of what the church should be. A holy place, protected by God's amazing grace. A place where people are free to share their needs and struggles without fear of condemnation. A place where the people go out to change the world with the love of Christ and the freedom that is found in Him. A place where the lonely can come and find community.What would this world be if the church was really the place it should be.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Weekend Wanderings

I wasn't able to post any links last weekend because we were I Georgia with our son and daughter-in-law, who were waiting for the child ...