Wednesday, May 30, 2012

World Vision Wednesday

The creation of the nation of South Sudan has not ended the violence in that part of the world. Many of humanitarian organizations have left the town of Bentui, near the border of Sudan and South Sudan. World Vision is one of those organizations that have moved away, although the humanitarian efforts continue. For more, go here.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

This has been an interesting week here in the sunny South. The temperatures have climbed up and are pretty much where we expect them to be. It is Memorial Day weekend, and many of the churches around here will be honoring those who served and died for this nation. While I am extremely grateful for all those who gave their lives for our country, I do think some go overboard when they take a time which is supposed to be focused on Christ, and focus on men, especially when the sacrifice those folks made is lifted up to the same level as Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. That being said, I do believe we should honor those who died for our political freedom, just not in a gathering for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.

Here are the links:

Pray in the disarray.
A proverb from Mike Erich.
Preaching the Gospel to unbelievers is bad?
Alan Knox on the church.
Should tithing count as charitable giving?

Todd Hiestand on this broken and beautiful world.
If Christ is Lord, everything matters.
iMonk asks a good question.
Doubting Thomas or Honest Tom?
Fill in the blank...

Kansas Bob on exalting and humbling.
Church vs. Jesus.
Frank Viola on Calvinists and Arminians.
Getting to the bottom of it.
Arthur Sido on church membership and widows.

Scripture as a mirror.
Pam Hogeweide on the art of relationship.
How much more is enough?
"But" out of God's love.
The righteous mind.

Have a fantastic Memorial Day, and a blessed week!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How God Became King 2

In How God Became King, N.T. Wright states that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was the inauguration of the kingdom, that "The cross serves the goal of the kingdom. just as the kingdom is accomplished by Jesus' victory on the cross." Jesus' victory was accomplished by taking the worst the kingdoms of this world (symbolized by Rome) and the one behind those kingdoms (Satan) could throw at him, and coming out the other side, having conquered death and hell. The establishment of this kingdom was not what everyone expected. It was a kingdom based on sacrificial love, rather than a kingdom like all the other kingdoms.

Wright goes on to state that Jesus followers saw themselves as participating in Jesus' kingdom through their suffering. Jesus was very clear that following him meant suffering. We here in the West seem to have forgotten that. One one side are "Job's friends," who see any suffering as a result of some sin in the individual's life. On the other side are those who see all suffering as coming from Satan, so all we have to do is have enough faith to "speak" the suffering away, in effect pretending the suffering doesn't exist. Of course, if you don't have enough faith to speak the trouble away, then it is your fault just as it is on the other end of the spectrum. I believe both ends of the spectrum miss the boat.

I was having a short on-line discussion with a friend the other day about an article I had read about a theology of suffering. The article stated that we need to teach that God doesn't always heal, but that he is always present with us in our suffering. My friend made the comment that it can be as damaging to believe in a God who is present but doesn't heal as it is to have a God who can heal but lets us suffer because of our lack of faith. I agree with that. This is where the idea of suffering as the means by which God's kingdom comes to earth changes a lot of our thinking and practice. If we suffer, and the kingdom advances through our suffering, then we can say with Paul, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5) 

Paul also stated that he wanted to know Christ, to know the power of his resurrection. We have no problem wanting that as well. But then Paul goes on to say that he wanted to participate in Christ's sufferings, becoming like him in his death. We have a hard time getting hold of that. But if the suffering of the followers of Jesus advances his kingdom, then we shouldn't see it as a result of our sin or an attack of Satan (although those may be contributing factors), but rather see it as something that will bring glory to our King and good to his kingdom.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

World Vision Wednesday

One year ago, a tornado devastated the city of Joplin, Missouri. Today, the citizens of Joplin are continuing to rebuild both their homes and their lives. Through World Vision has been on the ground helping the effort in Joplin as well as at other sites across the United States. For a first person account of the devastation and information on how you can help in future disasters, check this out.

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Week

The past seven days have been pretty busy. There were the usual work related goings-on, family happenings, etc. There were more significant things that happened as well. One of the events was life changing, and the other was different.

Our son was married this past weekend. We held the rehearsal and dinner at the local camp where we work. There was barbecue, baked beans, cole slaw, and cobbler. It was a busy day, setting up and taking down, driving to pick up the meat, and cooking. Everyone had a good time. The wedding was Sunday. Josh and Alicia were married in the evening in an old dairy barn that has been converted into a venue for different events. Jan and I went there to help decorate in the afternoon, and back for the ceremony. It was a beautiful time. The food at the reception was delicious, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

We spent Monday recovering and visiting with relatives who came in for the wedding. Tuesday found me home with a bad head cold. Wednesday morning, I received a phone call from the pastor of the church we have been gathering with, telling me that a young woman in the church had passed away that morning. The church was going to gather that night to share a meal, to sing some hymns, to share memories, and to pray and encourage one another. It was an interesting experience, because I had never been part of a church gathering for that purpose. I'd been to funerals, taken dinner to grieving families, and stood around and talked at viewings. This was the first time I had been at a gathering of a church like that. It was...well, it was like a family gathering. It was like the brothers and sisters, uncles and cousins, had gathered to comfort each other and pay their respects to their departed loved one. As I thought about it later, it hit me. This is what church is supposed to be. We are family! We have the same Father, the same older Brother. We are brothers and sisters. So why wouldn't we gather as a family when something like this happens? So many Christians say that they are family with other Christians, but the reality is far different (maybe it's because there are so many dysfunctional examples out there).

The gathering Wednesday night was family. The gathering I had with a brother in Christ at a local pub the next night was also family. We met for dinner and a couple of pints, and spent the next few hours sharing our lives and encouraging each other. Again, that's what family does. That's what church is. It doesn't have to be in a particular building, at a particular time, on a particular day. It is wherever and whenever the children of God get together to encourage each other and share the Father's love.

I think we may have found our family.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

World Vision Wednesday

One of the many things we are told to do is give back. If someone has done something for us, we should be willing to pass it along or to give back to them if the time comes. You can read about someone who has done this by going here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Prayer for Josh and Alicia

Abba Father,

Thank you for Josh and Alicia. In your grace and love, you have brought them together. As we have watched them grow from little ones to mature adults, you have answered many prayers, including the prayers for their mates.

We pray for your blessings on their marriage. May it be a picture of Christ and his Church and a shining testimony of your love. Let Josh and Alicia find their center in you as they follow Jesus together. may their love for each other flow our of your love for them, and may that love grow throughout their lives.

May they be quick to listen and slow to speak. May they be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Let grace and mercy rule and their love conquer all.

Father, we pray that you would richly bless Josh and Alicia. provide out of your abundance and let them never lack any good thing. May they be generous with what you give and may they be a blessing to others. May their children learn early to follow you and may they be a blessing to Josh and Alicia as they are a blessing to us.

Give them many happy years together. Let your kingdom come and your will be done in and through them as it is in heaven.

In Jesus name we ask these things. Amen

Saturday, May 12, 2012

To Josh on the Eve of Your Wedding

Wow. It's hard to believe it's here. You're getting married tomorrow. The son we welcomed into our family so many years ago is beginning a family of his own. It's seems like only a little while ago that we were bringing you home on that cold January day. Sometimes time passes too quickly.

You know how proud we are of you, but we're going to to say it anyway. We are extremely proud of you, Josh. You have been a blessing from the Father since the day you were born. It is a privilege to be your parents. It has been an absolute joy to watch you grow up, and to watch God work in you, from the time you said you wanted to have a whole heart toward God until today. You have matured into a young man who loves Jesus and who wants to follow him. You are a compassionate person who graciously shows the Father's love to those around you.

There are a few things we want you to remember. First, remember your first allegiance is to Jesus. He is the One who loves you and lay down his life for you. Your second allegiance is to Alicia. She is your wife, and your call is to love her as Christ loved the Church, giving yourself for her. Next come the children that God blesses you with. Be the kind of father that allows them to easily see God as Father. If you keep those things straight, you will be the kind of man who reflects the image of your Savior.

We love you Josh, and we wish you and Alicia God's grace and favor. We pray the Father will grant you a long and happy life together, and allow you to see him work in wondrous ways.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

World Vision Wednesday

"For the past month or so, Uganda has seen attention in the media and among the American public that it hasn't experienced in several years, thanks to the viral video phenomenon 'Kony2010.'" 

The danger to the children of Uganda is not over, however. Check this out to find out more.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

Things are winding down at school. We have 3 1/2 weeks left until summer vacation. I think the teachers are looking forward to the break as much as, if not more than the kids. Here in the sunny South we went from sort of winter to spring, back to winter, and now have skipped ahead to summer. Our son, Josh is getting married a week from Sunday, and the rehearsal dinner is going to be outside, so we're hoping for a bit of a cool down in the next week. There probably won't be a Weekend Wanderings post next week, because of all the festivities, so enjoy this week's offering:

The gospel shell game.
Wow. Just, wow.
Interesting post from Keith Giles.
Friendship and free space.

A mission for God.
Good post from Alan Knox.
The religious feudal system.
Funny stuff from Kansas Bob.

Jesus' surprising love.
Scot McKnight on reading Scripture.
A gospel-shaped imagination.
Frank Viola on standing.

For leaders only.
Ronnie McBrayer on drawing near.
The Christian life.
Arthur Sido on church competition.

Beyond atonement theories.
First things first, part 1.
Love and sacrifice.

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Moving On

It's been a while since I've written here. Life has been happening the past few months. I have decided to start fresh, so I'm mo...