Friday, July 30, 2010

TGIF

I'm watching the X-Games on TV tonight. The tricks they do are pretty amazing. What is also amazing are the links this week. How's that for a segue?

Here are the links:
http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=3425883570523485808
During the World Cup, Josh and I were joking about what might happen to the team from North Korea after they lost all their matches. Well, here is what did happen. At least they are still alive.

Discontent.
Bob Hyatt has some good thoughts on a touchy subject.
This must be stopped. (HT: Scot McKnight)
Should Christians covet poverty?

Jeff Dunn on Anne Rice leaving Christianity.
Becoming a community of Pharisees.
Are small business owners wealthy fat cats?
Scot McKnight is imagining. Part 1.

Jesus or "Christian?"
Just love.
Just love some more.
A long pause from impermanence.

Here in the sunny South it's supposed to be a bit cooler the next couple of days. I hope you thoroughly enjoy your weekend. Thanks for reading my blog.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

Yeah, I know it's Thursday. So, sue me. Trust me, you won't get much. :)

If you are already a child sponsor, this will be a great opportunity to spread the news about World Vision to your friends and family. If you are not yet a sponsor, keep your ears open for news of an event near you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grasshoppers

Yesterday when I was picking up the campers to ride the shuttle bus, I noticed that a grasshopper had joined us. Since it didn't seem to want to leave, I let it ride with us and it sat on the control box next to me.

As we traveled together down the road, God spoke to me. He told me that I sometimes see myself as a grasshopper, and that I should remember the Israelites in Numbers 13. In that chapter, the twelve spies have just come back from checking out the Promise Land. Joshua and Caleb tell the people that it's a wonderful land, and that they should immediately go in and take it. The other ten say, "Whoa, wait just a minute! There's giants there. Big ones! Compared to them, we're like grasshoppers!" (FSRV) This description scared the people so much that they were ready to overthrow Moses and return to Egypt. The Israelites forgot that God was with them, that he had promise the land to them, and that he would enable them to defeat these giants.

When God spoke to me, I realized that I do sometimes see myself as a grasshopper. There are times when I look at my positions as an instructional assistant, and as an assistant basketball coach. When I compare them to my former positions as an athletic director and head coach of two or three sports, and a Bible teacher, it doesn't seem like much. Grasshopper. When I look at what I see others doing, and the impact they are having on people's lives, what I am doing doesn't seem like much. Grasshopper. When I go through the disappointment of not getting a job with potential of using my gifts and having a greater impact, it seems like I've been passed over. Grasshopper. It's very easy to think you're not all that when you get caught up in the comparison game.

As I thought about this (in between telling kids to stay in their seats), God said, "The people of Israel forgot that I was with them, that my strength would give defeat their enemies and give them the land. Remember that I am with you. I have called you to do what you are doing now, and it is important. Anything you do in my name is big, because I am in it." You know, God's right. (Duh!) Whatever we do in his name is big, because he is in it.

The Church is described in Scripture as the Body of Christ. In a body, every part is important. The older I get, the more I know this to be true. As different parts of my body begin to work less efficiently than when I was younger, other parts have to adjust. In the Body, each member has a part to play, each member is important. Even if you're (like me) a little toe, you are still a valued part of the Body and what you do is important. The last time I checked, there were no grasshoppers in my body, neither are there grasshoppers in the Body. (how's that for mixing metaphors)

When we arrived at camp, I took the grasshopper and let him go out the window. I've let the other "grasshopper" go as well.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Community

Community is one of the favorite buzz words being used in churches today. Churches talk about being a community of faith, some call themselves _______________ Community Church. Now, I have nothing against community churches, the local body I gather with is St. Thomas Community Church. I also believe community is a vital thing for the church.

I wonder though, if we understand what community is. I'm not sure that most church goers know how to have community, or what it would look like. I also don't think most church leaders understand it. Sometimes churches try to "build community" by having more Sunday school classes, or by having an extended meet and greet time during the Sunday morning service. Other churches have small groups throughout the week. Many times these efforts only serve as another program that gives the appearance of community, but does nothing to build up the people involved. Some smaller churches attempt to have community by seeking to control every area of their members' lives.

One definition of community is: "a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society." There are many other definitions, but it seems to me that this one fits what the church is meant to be. A local body of followers of Jesus is a group of people (that was a profound statement, wasn't it). A local body is also within a larger society. So far, so good. I believe the key for the church is found in the found in the middle of the definition.

A community is a group living together. That may mean living in the same neighborhood, or even in the same house, and there are faith communities who do that. For most of us though, the idea of living together means doing life together. Doing life together is not easy in today's society, but it is essential for community. It takes different forms, from a couple of people getting together for coffee one day a week to families meeting for dinner and spending time together. It can be "theology night" at a local pub, or folks in the church camping together. Doing life together can take many forms, but the important thing is that it happens more than just a couple of hours on Sunday.

A community is also a group with a common characteristic or interest. I believe that the only common interest that can bring about true community is Jesus. Church groups can form around many interests, from sports to cooking. "Accountability groups" are popular. While these groups can be good things, they can quickly become either social groups or exercises in navel gazing. The church has a built-in common characteristic. We are all members of the Body of Christ. We are all family. If a local body is focused on Jesus Christ, and is wrapped up in learning him, and being formed together into his image, we will grow closer together. We will invest ourselves and our resources in each others' lives. We will grow to be open and vulnerable with one another. We will minister to each other. It's not something that will happen overnight, in fact it make take years.

Being a community is like planting a garden. The plants don't bear fruit right away. It takes constant, gentle care to keep the plants going. Sometimes weeds need to be pulled up. It can be messy. It may require effort when we don't feel like it. But, the harvest is a beautiful thing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

TGIF

It's been hot this week, and the bus I drive has 34/45 air conditioning (open 34 windows and go 45 mph), so by the time I finish in the evening I'm pretty drained. But it's Friday, and every vehicle I drive this weekend has real air conditioning. Tomorrow, we're going to the wedding of one of my former basketball players. It will be good to share in her celebration.

Well, I know that you only love me for my links, so here they are:

The oil spill in the Gulf is definitely a disaster with unforeseen consequences, but it could be worse.
This is wrong on so many levels.
Evangelicals and immigration.
The context for spirituality.

Remaining fruit.
Dining in the valley.
Jesus Creed reviews Mere Churchianity.
Being "quick to hear."

Just in case you missed this, from the Espys.
Marv-elous Motivational Morning Message.
Is friendship a dying art?
John Frye on discernment energy.
Tim Hill wants a Master's in "Jesusology."

Thank you for reading my blog. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Encouragement

While reading Jesus Manifesto yesterday morning, I came across this quote from Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022):

We awaken in Christ's body
as Christ awakens our bodies...
and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in him transformed,
recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in his light.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

I usually try to stay out of political discussions. However, the International Affairs Budget is an issue that crosses partisan lines. To learn more about this, read this article.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

St. Augustine Trip - Final Day

The last night in the inn had passed. It was now time to say goodbye to St. Augustine and begin the trek back to South Carolina. But first, there were things to do and places to see. After one more delicious breakfast we hopped on the trolley and rode it around town again, stopping at Memorial Presbyterian Church, built by Henry Flagler as a memorial to his only daughter.


From there we walked to Flagler College, which occupies the old Ponce de Leon Hotel built by Henry Flagler. It's a beautiful campus.
From there, we walked around the Spanish Quarter some more, going into buildings and shops that were closed in the evenings the other days.

After finishing our explorations, we had one final stop - the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The lighthouse reportedly is also haunted, although we didn't see anything out of the ordinary there either.

What can be see though, are great views of the ocean and the city.After leaving the lighthouse, we said farewell to the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. We left behind a few dollars, but we took with us fond memories of good times together, as well as some pictures. We arrived home later that night, tired and happy. It was a wonderful trip.

Monday, July 19, 2010

St. Augustine Trip - Day 3

After another wonderful breakfast at the St. Francis Inn, Jan and I went on a cruise around Matanzas Bay. The cruise gave us a look at the city from a different perspective.
After the hour and a half cruise (thankfully no one named Gilligan was on board), we walked back to the inn to get our car and drove to the beach. The inn provided us with a place to change, towels and chairs, so we didn't have to take anything with us. While the weather was extremely hot back in South Carolina, it was very pleasant at St. Augustine Beach.
We ate dinner at a small beach restaurant named Mango, Mangos, and then went back and walked around the old city some more before going back to the inn for dessert. After a relaxing evening, we called it a night as we had some driving to do the next day.

Friday, July 16, 2010

TGIF

After a week away, we are back in the swing of things. It's hot and humid here in the sunny South, with chances of thunderstorms every afternoon. Typical July weather.

And now, I give you the links:

Helping others by drinking coffee.
How to find God's will for your life.
The wonder of summer.
Chaplain Mike rants.
Jon Acuff can't stop watching the Old Spice guy.

Check out this camera rig.
Society, suckers and solitude.
The fortress still exists.
A good reminder from Bob Hyatt.
The destructive nature of judgment.

Scot McKnight on virtual church.
Interesting.
The fault box.
Category confusion. (HT: Scot McKnight)

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

St. Augustine Trip - Day 2

After a good night's sleep, we awoke to a beautiful north coastal Florida day. We went downstairs to the dining roomand filled our plates with a delicious breakfast, which we ate outside in the courtyard.

After breakfast, we hopped the trolley to travel around the city, picking out places that we hadn't seen in our previous visits so we could go back to them later. We ate lunch at the Santa Maria Restaurant, where diners can feed bread to the fish in the bay through small trapdoors in the window sills.
After lunch, we walked around the old Spanish Quarter, looking at buildings that, in some cases, predated Jamestown and Plymouth. Of course, we also shopped. After we had tromped around for a couple hours, we went back to the inn for hors d'oeuvres and drinks. We then walked back to the old city gates for a ghost walk. The only problem was that I had bought the tickets on-line and for some reason we weren't on the list for the time I had reserved. So, we had to wait for a bit. We walked to the Spanish fort and sat on a bench and just relaxed, watching people and the boats on the bay. After about an hour or so, we went on the walk. We heard some interesting stories of paranormal encounters, but we didn't see anything out of the ordinary. There were a couple of folks in our group who took pictures that showed things that weren't visible to the eye, so...

After the tour was over, we walked back to the inn and rested up for the next day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

World Vision Wednesday

It's hard to believe that it has been six months since Haiti was devastated by a major earthquake. World Vision has been there serving since the beginning. For an update watch this video.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

St. Augustine Trip - Day 1

We traveled to St. Augustine on Monday from Summerville, SC, having spent the night with my sister and her family. Since Jan shares my enjoyment of traveling off the interstate, we rolled down Highway 17 to I-95 South. We took 95 through South Carolina and Georgia to just north of Jacksonville, FL. There we exited and got on A1A, which winds down the coast through the beach towns and vacation homes of north Florida. On the way we found that traveling on this particular road includes a trip on a ferry.

After a 15-20 minute trip, we were back on the road. We continued south until we made it to St. Augustine and the St. Francis Inn. The inn is a bed and breakfast in a house that dates back to 1791.After checking in and resting for a bit, we had an anniversary dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant, and chilled out for the rest of the evening, resting up for some busy days ahead.

Friday, July 9, 2010

TGIF

This week has been one of the best in a long time. Jan and I celebrated our 30th anniversary on Monday and traveled to St. Augustine, Florida, where we spent about three and a half days. We had a fantastic time. Expect to see pics soon.

I haven't even come close to catching up with my blog reading, but here are some of the good links I've seen:

Erin is living by the seasons.
Jeff Dunn "reviews" Disciple Like Jesus For Parents.
Raspberry Wars, Part One.
Here is an iMonk classic.

Missional Discipleship Part 2.
What makes the story good.
This is good. (HT: The Thinklings)
Funny e-mail exchange.

How far is too far?
Does love get taken advantage of?
Good thoughts from Scot McKnight.
Christian hipster bookshelf. (HT: Scot Mcknight)
John Cleese explains extremism. (HT: Keith Giles)

That's it for this week. Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, July 5, 2010

30 Years

Thirty years ago, Jan and I set out on a journey together. Through those years the path has had many twists and turns. We have gone through jobs lost and found, leaving old friends and getting to know new ones, saying goodbye to parents, and seeing our children grow up and go out on their own. Of course, we have also gone through many of the adjustments that married couples make as they get to know each other.

We both had wonderful examples of marriage from our parents, so as we started out, we determined from the start that divorce was not going to be an option. That commitment, along with the grace of God, has helped make our marriage strong. Of course, it's easy to want to stay with someone who you've never fallen out of love with.

God has truly blessed me with a woman like Jan. She has a wonderful sense of humor, which is a requirement for living with someone like me. Her love for Christ is evident in her demeanor and the way she approaches life. Through the years, as I have watched her teach Josh and Jennie and her school students, I have clearly seen her love for others. Her quiet and gentle spirit has been a calming influence for me many times, as well as her ability to cut through the fog and bring clarity to my sometimes muddled mind.

Proverbs 31:10 says that a noble wife is worth far more than rubies. I know that to be true. In Jan, I have found a noble wife whose worth exceeds not only rubies, but all other things as well. I know that I am truly blessed, and I am awed by the love that the Father shows me through her. I cannot imagine what life would be like without her.

Happy 30th anniversary, Jan. May God grant us many more. I love you more than yesterday, and less than tomorrow.

Friday, July 2, 2010

TGIF

After a warmer than usual June here in the sunny South, July's temperatures have started out going in the opposite direction. We may see record low temperatures the next couple of nights. Of course, that makes the days and nights much more comfortable.

I know that all of you missed TGIF terribly last week, so we'll get right to the links:

Ministering money the New Testament way.
The power of love.
Surprise!
This should be interesting.
This should be great!

Tough question.
Just in case you're looking for a new way for your church to celebrate the 4th. Just be careful what you worship.
Christian porn.
Funny.

Great price for a "fixer-upper" of sorts. (HT: Scot McKnight)
Maybe some people have too much time on their hands.
Knit together by grace.
Discipleship and a lawn mower.

Have a great weekend! If you set off fireworks, please don't blow yourself up.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Home Improvement

A church near us has a sign that reads, "For home improvement, bring the family to church." When I first saw the sign, a number of thoughts ran through my mind. I was able to catch some of them before they ran away.

The first thought was how much I have come to disagree with the idea of "going to church." It may a bit nit-picky, but I believe that the modern mindset that church is somewhere we go or an event we attend is a large part of the problem with evangelicalism. When "church" is a place or an event, then it becomes just a part of our lives, much like a club or other organization. We attend church, like we attend a play or a concert, and many times the result is the same. We invite people to events at church, hoping that they will like what they see enough to come back. This mindset can also bring about a spirit of competition between congregations. The dirty secret among many churches is that much "church growth" comes from folks moving from one church to another.

Another thought is that the sign reveals a mindset that "church" is the source of all the answers. If you just bring your family to church, everything will be fine. Along with this comes the moaning about all the kids who grow up in church and leave as soon as they get away home. Does anyone else see the contradiction? If taking your family to church was as effective as the sign seems to suggest, young people would be staying in church. A few years ago I heard a pastor of a prominent mega-church state that the hope of the world is the local church. This is the same view that the organization called church is what the world needs. The church is the "pillar and ground of the truth," but that truth is Christ. It is only when the church is wrapped up in Christ that it can provide any hope.

The third thought that came to mind is that the key to home improvement is found in Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." What would our homes be like if husbands actually began doing that?

A New Morning

It was quite definitely early morning now, not late night. "I'm so cold," said Lucy. "So am I," said Susan. "Le...