Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given Part 3

This is part three of a four part series.

As we are able to claim our blessedness, we can then, "face our own and others' brokenness with open eyes." Henri Nouwen ends his chapter on blessedness with these words. The next chapter is on the third word that Nouwen found useful in identifying the movements of the Spirit in our lives. That word is broken.

"Broken" is a term that most of us in the church don't like to hear or think about. We do love hearing about the "broken body of Christ," because it speaks to us of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We love to hear about the power of sin being broken, even though we sometimes live as if we were still under its sway. What we don't like to think about is the idea that we have been, are, and will be broken. But, it is true.

We live in a broken world. All anyone needs to do is look around them or watch the evening news. The creation is broken. It is being restored, but it is still broken. Take a look at the folks around us. They are broken people, and much of the heartache and misery in the world is caused by broken people breaking other people. No one escapes being broken. Nouwen puts it this way,

"Instinctively we know that the joy of life comes from the ways in which we live together and that the pain of life comes from the many ways we fail to do that well."  

I think Nouwen is correct when he states that, just as we claim our chosenness and blessedness, we must claim our brokenness. We must own up the fact that we have been hurt in the past, may be hurt in the present, and will be hurt in the future. That's part of the job description. After owning up to our brokenness, we then can respond to it. We do that in two ways, by befriending it and by bringing it under the  blessing.

Our first response to our brokenness is to befriend it. That seems counterintuitive to us. Our first, and sometimes only response is usually to run away, to avoid that which is causing us pain and convince ourselves that if we ignore it it will go away. The problem with that approach is that it doesn't bring healing. I believe that our tendency to run from pain is a contributing factor to some of the mental health problems in society, and to many, if not most of our relationship problems. We are afraid of pain, of heartbreak, of suffering. If we do find the courage to embrace our pain we then find that we have started down the road of healing. Nouwen writes,

"The deep truth is that our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and peace we so desire, but can become, instead, the means to it."

Everything in our lives, good or bad, joyful or painful, can be part of the path we take to being fully human. This is a hard concept to grasp. We can easily see how the good in our lives brings us to glory, but it's another thing entirely to see our suffering in the same light.

The second response to suffering is to put it under the blessing. Like the first century disciples who asked Jesus if the man's blindness was a result of his sin or his parents', we usually look at suffering as an indication that we're bad people. There are many voices out there that tell us that if we just do things the right way, or  if we are really God's child, then we won't have to suffer. I wonder what the apostle Paul, or the Christians being martyred for their faith today would say to that. Suffering does not necessarily mean that we are bad people. It does not mean that the negative voices in our lives are right. We must listen the voice that calls us beloved children, the voice of our Father. Our brokenness does not cause God to love us any less, it does not cause him to see us in a negative light.

As we live in our blessedness and take our brokenness there and put it in the proper perspective, we find that the burden becomes lighter and the way becomes clearer. We can then see the suffering as a means of  purifying us. Ask a grape vine if pruning is something it enjoys. If the vine could feel and talk, it would tell you that pruning is painful. I mean, how would you like to have a limb hacked off? The vine would also tell you that the suffering of pruning is worth it because it produces the abundant harvest of grapes that allows us to share wine with our friends. Sometimes there are things in our lives that need to be pruned away. While it is a painful process, it is also an indication that our Abba loves us, and is forming us into the people he wants us to be.

As the bread in the Communion, we are taken in order to be blessed. We are blessed so that we can be broken. As the bread cannot be distributed unless it is broken, so with us. We are broken so that we might be given.

Part 1
Part 2

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given Part 2

This is the second post in a four part series. Part 1 is here.

In Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen writes of four words that helped him identify the movements of the Spirit in his life. In the first post I looked at the idea that we are taken by the Father. Today, we'll look at the concept of being blessed.

As those who are beloved of the Father and chosen by him, we are blessed. We are not only blessed in the sense of having our sins forgiven and being at peace with God, but we are also blessed in the sense that God says good, true things about us. Our Father tells us that we are his beloved children, that we are adopted into his family and have all the benefits of heirs. We are in Christ, therefore we are co-heirs with Jesus. God tells us that he will always take care of us, that we can trust him to do nothing but good. While that good may not look wonderful to our eyes, we can know that it is truly good.

In a world that is full of curses and lies, we need to hear the truth that we are blessed. First, we need to hear from our Father. We do this by prayer. Not just talking to God, but also listening to him. It is hard to tune out the noise of the world around us and the lies whispered to us by our Enemy. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between the voice of the thief who can disguise himself as an angel of light, and the true Shepherd who gave his life that we might live life to the full. Being still and learning to hear the Shepherd's voice is vital in our walk with him. Whether it's a few minutes here and there, an hour or a day, we need to carve out time where we simply are still so we can know that he is God.

Another way we can hear the blessing from the Father is to cultivate presence. We normally go through our day-to-day with tunnel vision and miss the many blessings Abba brings our way. Some of those come directly from heaven, some come through other people. When we realize those blessings, we need to receive them and show gratitude. Sometimes receiving blessing from another is humbling. It forces us to recognize that we really do need each other. Unfortunately, this is as true in the church as in the outside world. We want to appear strong and able, so we tend to pooh pooh times that someone has met our needs and forget that we have been truly blessed. Many times, the simple presence of someone in our lives is a blessing that we miss.

Through these two ways we recognize and claim our blessedness. We are not blessed just for our sake though. The Father blesses us so that we will bless others. Claiming our blessing will give us a desire to bless those we come in contact with each day, from the brother or sister who needs help, to the cashier at the grocery store who is tired at the end of the shift. In a world that is full of curses and lies, people hunger for blessing whether we realize it or not. Jesus commanded us to love others as he loved us. As we are forgiven, we are to forgive. As we are shown grace, we are to show grace. As we are blessed, we are to bless.

We can only bless others as we tune out the noise of the darkness and listen to the voice of our Father and claim our blessedness. Then, as Nouwen states,

"...we can face our own and others' brokenness with open eyes."

That's a topic for another time.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Repost: Giving It All Up

This was first posted on February 15, 2008.

In A Renegade's Guide to God, David Foster tells a story of a wealthy man who built a large art collection with his son. The son goes off to war and is killed. Later a soldier shows up at the man's door with a portrait that he had painted of the man's son, saying that the son had saved his life. The portrait is given an honored place in the man's art collection.

The wealthy man dies and his entire estate is put up for auction. The first item is the portrait of the son. The crowd is waiting for the "good stuff" i.e. the Picassos, Rembrandts, and other great works. No one bids on the portrait. Finally a man bids ten dollars. It is the one who painted it and ten dollars is all he has to give. Because no one else bids he is the highest bidder. The auctioneer then says that the auction is closed. There was a clause in the will that states that the son's portrait was to be the only thing auctioned and that whoever bought the picture would get the entire estate. So the soldier, who gave everything he had to get the son's picture, also got everything else.

That's what being a Christian is all about. You give up everything you have to "get the Son", and you get everything else that the Father has. It's all about a relationship with Jesus. It's not about a bunch of rules, how you dress, what kind of Bible you carry, how you vote, what kind of music you listen to, whether you smoke or drink, or any other external things. It's about whether you realize that you can not save yourself and that Jesus Christ loves you and has died for you so you don't have to die. It's about having a relationship of love with the Creator. It's about following Jesus and letting his Spirit guide you and form you into his image.
Jesus said he came to give us a life that is abundant and full. That's the way Christians should be. Are we?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given

At the camp I drive for during the summer, we hold a weekly study for the staff. This summer we are looking at Life of the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen. In this book, Nouwen writes about four words that have helped him identify the movements of the Spirit in his life. Nouwen's idea is that as followers of Jesus we are bread for the world, therefore we are taken, blessed, broken, and given, as the bread during communion. As I read the explanation of these words, I am finding them helpful in my own walk. In this four part series, I am going to share some of  my thoughts.

The first word is taken. You could substitute the word "chosen." We are chosen by God to be his beloved children. He has become our Father, and he is pleased with his children. As Nouwen states:

"Our preciousness, uniqueness, and individuality are not given to us by those who meet us 
in clock-time -- our brief chronological existence -- but by the One who has chosen us
with an everlasting love, a love that existed from all eternity and will last through all eternity."

Unfortunately, we live in a world that tells us that we are nothing, that there is nothing special about us. Those voices bombard us constantly, from advertisements that tell us we must have the latest (fill in the blank) in order to be happy and fulfilled, to preachers who tell us how far short we fall and how much harder we need to work. Those voices do not come from our Father. They come from our Enemy who seeks to steal our joy, kill our spirits, and destroy our lives.

Nouwen gives three ways we can stay in touch with our chosenness. The first is to keep unmasking the world around us for what it is. The world is full of manipulation and destruction. It's prevailing wisdom is to step on anyone and everyone in the climb up the ladder. When we feel hurt or rejected, we should recognize those feelings, but also recognize that they are not the truth about ourselves. The truth is that the Father loves us with an everlasting love, and has chosen us to be his children.

The second way is to look for people and places where our chosenness is affirmed. These people and places will not be perfect, but as Nouwen writes,

"The limited, sometimes broken, love of those who share our humanity can often point us to the truth of who we are: precious in God's eyes." 

We need each other, and we need to affirm in each other the precious, beloved children that we are.

The third way is to celebrate our chosenness constantly. We are to be grateful to the Father for choosing us, and grateful to those who remind us of our chosenness. We need to be careful, because occasions for gratitude can also be occasions for cynicism, for questioning motives, even for bitterness. We must guard against this and consciously choose to be grateful.

 Rather than making us feel superior or more favored, claiming our chosenness will give us a great desire to help others recognize and claim their chosenness, their place as a beloved child of the Father. This is another reason we need to be in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can build up and encourage one another as we gather together as God's chosen, beloved children.

One final thought from Nouwen:

" It is only when we have claimed our own place in God's love that we can experience this all-embracing, noncomparing love and feel safe, not only with God, but also with all our brothers and sisters." 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

This has been a good week. Jan and I have seen God do some amazing things, as he has allowed us to be reconciled with a friend. It has rained every afternoon here in the sunny South, and we seem to be in a pattern where it's going to continue for a while. Pray for the victims of the horrific shooting in Aurora, Colorado and their families. Pray also that those who would try to make political or other hay out of this tragedy would be seen for what they are, and that grace and compassion would rule.

Here are the links:

Arthur Sido on Aurora and some lessons.
How do you know how to do this?
The sermon.
Frank Viola on pettiness.
Good news.

Alternative insurance.
Mr Toad and Pentecost.
Stephen Mattson on America's forgotten poor.
Good post from Ronnie McBrayer.
A changing sense of mission.

Too many leaders?
Alan Knox on the interconnected church.
A plant that feared the sun.
Sermons in stones.
Pig pens and band aids.

Todd Hiestand on hope.
What is the real story here?
Hugging the rock.
A question from Alan Knox.
How many of us have done this?

Have a blessed week!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Putting Holes in the Darkness

A while back I read a story about Robert Louis Stevenson. One night when he was a little boy, his nanny called for him to come to bed. He didn't hear her since he was intently staring out the window. When his nanny asked him what he was looking at, he pointed at the lamplighter lighting the street lights and said, "Look Nanny! That man is putting holes in the darkness!"

I got to thinking that that 's a large part of what being a follower of Jesus is. We're to put holes in the darkness. We may not be able to save the world, but we can at least shine the love of Christ in the darkness around us. As Jesus said, "Let your light shine among men, so they can see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

Another week has come and gone. It's been a little cooler here in the sunny South, after a week of temperatures around 100 degrees. Summer break continues, and it doesn't seem to be going by too quickly.

Without further ado, here are the links:

Eric Carpenter on sacrificing.
Jared Wilson on humility.
Just gotta love 'em.
The consumption monster.

Ronnie McBrayer knows how to handle a hammer.
Jesus and exorcism.
Quiet leadership.
Mark Galli on transformation.

What's love got to do with it?
Glorious and messy (HT: Alan Knox).
Keith Giles on resistance.
Suburban olympics.

Chaplain Mike on being OK.
For the coffee drinkers.
Sometimes just being together is enough.
An author of note.
The forgotten character.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday Night Church

Last night was what you could call a movable church feast. First, a group of us met at a home for dinner, as is our usual practice. What made this night different was that after dinner we headed downtown to help a local restaurant owner clean her new place so she could open next week. We spent about ninety minutes cleaning, fixing some furniture, moving things, etc.

After we finished, some of us traveled down the street to a local pub where we continued to fellowship  over food and pints. It was a good couple of hours hanging out, talking about theology, philosophy, and what was going on in our lives. I had a bit of a hard time waking up at an early hour this morning, but it was definitely worth it. :)

Along with learning that the Church can be found even within the church, I am learning more and more that just hanging out with brothers and sisters in Christ is gathering with the church, no matter what is going on. Sometimes just rubbing shoulders with other followers of Jesus builds us up and forms us into Christ's image. Children learn a great deal from watching parents, grandparents, and other family members. As the saying goes, more is caught than taught. So it is in the family of God. As we spend time with each other, sharing our lives, we pick up things that build us up and help us follow Jesus, even when we may not realize it. Discipleship is by example much more than by formal teaching.

I would encourage you to seek out believers that you can spend time with, sharing your lives and getting to see how they follow Christ. Don't limit "church" to just studying the Bible or being taught.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Repost: Continuation of "Even More"

I had lost my hero, my adviser, my example. That next Christmas was hard. The biggest thing about the celebration of Christmas for me had always been family, and now I was an orphan.

At the same time a group of us in our church had decided that things needed to change or we could no longer continue there. A few months before this, we had gone to two Sunday morning worship services. One was a traditional service and the other was a more contemporary service. The church was losing people and it was thought that if we provided opportunity for people to worship as they preferred, it would strengthen and grow the church. The contemporary service quickly became just like the traditional service, only with cooler music.

Our group of "revolutionaries" believed that we needed to approach "church" from a fresh angle. We agreed that the church needed to reach into the community around us. We began to meet weekly to set out a course of action and to plan the weekly gatherings. At first, things were moving in a direction that really encouraged me. I was an elder, and had agreed to become an elder in order to try and influence the church in a direction that was more "emerging". Someone accused us trying to break away and start a new church. I said that I had no interest in planting a new church. (Famous last words)

As time went on I realized that the only way we were going to do what we believed God wanted us to do was to actually begin a new church under the auspices of the original church, with our own leadership. Unfortunately, there were a number of people in leadership, as well as other influential members, who wanted to have a say in what we were doing. We were accused of dividing the church and conditions were put on what we were doing. The conditions were probably good but they essentially put brakes on our efforts. As time went on, the enthusiasm for "doing church" differently waned and the worship service reverted to same old same old with cooler music. At the same time, there were positive signs, so I still planned to stay around and minister where I could.

Toward the end of the summer, I heard about a possible church plant here in Rock Hill. I was immediately intrigued. I contacted the one doing the planting and as we talked and got to know each other a little bit, God began to nudge me in the direction of helping in the plant. As time went on and I began to read and study, I became increasingly convinced of the need for a new church in Rock Hill. God continued to work on me, and by the end of December I decided to leave the current church and help plant the new one.

So now, I'm about to set off on another leg of my journey. Where this one will lead only God knows. If there's on thing I've learned through the years it's that no matter how much the road twists and turns, and no matter how dark things get, my Father is with me and is leading me exactly where he wants me to go. That makes the trip an adventure rather than a chore.

Should be fun.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Repost: Even More

This was originally posted on January 15, 2008:

During a time of prayer one night in January, 2006, a friend told me that he saw me going through a time of winter. He saw snow swirling around, deeper and deeper, and wolves howling around the door. I thought, "Great! I just came out of the desert, and now I'm going to experience winter?" So, I was left wondering what was going to happen next.

The next few months were relatively uneventful. Mom continued to get worse and things were tight financially (but that wasn't new). Things were unsettled in the church we served in. I felt a sense that things were changing, that God was doing something. What was happening, I had no idea, but there was a sense of anticipation and disquiet.

The year wore on, with Mom getting worse and worse, and Dad beginning to wear under the strain. In August, Dad had to make the decision to not do anything more to prolong Mom's life, and we contacted hospice to come and help Mom be comfortable, and at the end of August Mom passed from this life into the presence of the Father. While we were grieving, we were also relieved that Mom was no longer suffering and was now more alive than ever. The next month was busy with helping my dad with some of the stuff resulting from Mom's passing, and going with him to my nephew's soccer games.

At the end of September, thirty-three days after Mom died, I drove my dad to a soccer game. The day seemed perfectly normal. Then, it all fell apart. At halftime of the game, Dad had a massive heart attack and joined Mom in the presence of Jesus. It was a huge shock, and something that knocked me for a loop.

I'll try to finish this tomorrow.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

This past week, Jan and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary. We went to a bed & breakfast about an hour or so from here. Wednesday afternoon, we visited a winery, toured the property, tasted samples of their wine, and bought a bottle of Muscadine. That evening, we had dinner at a very nice restaurant, and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing at the inn. The inn is in a house that was built in 1879, and has been in operation for four years. It's run by a disabled veteran who used to be an executive chef at the White House. Needless to say, breakfast the next morning was absolutely delicious. We took a tour of the grounds, relaxed for a bit more, and then came home. It was a wonderful time away. It's hot here in the sunny South, as it is in just about the whole country. We're expecting a break from the heat next Monday and I hope the rest of the folks get the break as well.

Here are the links:

We're studying the book of Mark in our church gatherings. This is powerful.
How many of you remember Bobby Hurley from Duke?
The most dangerous man (or woman).
11 months, 3000 pictures, and a lot of coffee (HT: Jake Belder).
Kansas Bob on Jesus as the reality.
Doing the work of division.

Another kind of olympic games.
Swanny on freedom.
The Gospel and order.
Kingdom and cross.
Arthur Sido on July 4th.

Alan Knox on community and mission.
This would be why mass produced tomatoes don't have much taste.
An iMonk classic on Luther.
J.R. Miller on freedom and grace.
Dan Edelen on authenticity and church.

Nate Pruitt on dreaming.
Frank Viola on mysticism.
Linda Brendle on remembering.
Eric Carpenter on edification.
Unity begins and ends in Christ.

Good post from Kansas Bob.
Chaplain Mike on Psalm 121.
Doing the work of unity.
Prayer without words.
Just who do you think you are?

There's a little bit for you to read this week. Hope it's a blessed one!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

And I Still Do

One day, a minister asked me if I took the young woman standing next to me as my wife, to love and cherish, in sickness and health, for better or worse, as long as we both would live. That warm July day, I said I do.

Fast forward thirty two years. The woman is no longer young. Neither am I. We have been through both health and sickness. There have been times when things couldn't have been any better, and there have been other times when things seemed as if they couldn't be any worse. That day in July, neither one of us could have predicted all that was going to happen as we journeyed together. I know Jan had no idea what she was getting into. We have been through moves, jobs gained and lost, and have raised two children to adulthood. There have been disagreements and arguments. There have been many changes in our lives.

There are a couple of things that have never changed. The first, and most important, is the love that our Father has for us and the grace he has shown us every day. There have been times we couldn't have made it without God's grace and love. He has been faithful to provide for us all along, many times in ways we could never expected. While we have never been wealthy in terms of material things, we have been rich in the things that can never be taken away. We have always had the love of friends and family and the knowledge that our Papa would give us exactly what we needed at exactly the right time. He owns the riches of heaven, and we have learned to trust him as he takes care of us.

The second constant had been the fact that this woman who stood beside me thirty two years ago has always stood beside me. Jan has been my support through all I have done, whether teaching, coaching, or teaching others about following Jesus. She has been right there when jobs disappeared and new jobs were slow in coming. She has comforted me in times of sorrow and grief, and been extremely patient with me in my failings and struggles. We have been a team through these years. After all these years, it still boggles my mind to think of how wonderfully God has blessed me. He has given me a treasure that I can't even begin to fathom. I am one of those men who definitely married up. 

I cannot adequately express the depth of my love for you, Jan. Words don't do justice to my gratitude for all you have been to me. I can say one thing though. I still do.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

World Vision Wednesday

We often think hunger is something experienced by people on the other side of the world. Hunger is also a problem in parts of the United States as well. Check this out for more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Still More: Reposted

This was first posted January 8, 2008:

When we last left our hero, he was wondering what was going to happen next.

I was without work. I thought I was going to realize the fulfillment of a long held dream of coaching college basketball. So, I sent out resumes and waited. I talked to every coach I knew. And I waited. The summer came and went and still no coaching job. In fact, there were no jobs at all on the horizon. We didn't feel free to move to another area because my parents and my wife's parents had moved here to be near us and they were in declining health and needed our help. The search continued. As all this was going on, we had to give our cocker spaniel to the pound because he was old and had too much wrong with him for us to afford to have him treated. It was not a fun summer. About a week after we gave our dog away, I was out on yet another job search. As I drove past the animal shelter, I lost it. I began to pray, cry, and yell at God. I even cussed (I know that shocks some of you, but that's the way it is). I told God that if I had anywhere else to go, I'd chuck this whole Christian thing. I realized that, like the disciples, I had nowhere else to go, that Jesus was the only one worth following.

In September of 2005, I was hired by a tour bus company to drive. I was glad because it would give me a chance to travel. As it turned out, the majority of the job consisted of leaving the house at 4:00 AM, driving to a National Guard camp eighty miles away, and shuttling troops back and forth from the camp to a nearby army base so they could be processed for active duty in Iraq. Most of the day was spent sitting on the bus and waiting for the soldiers to get their paperwork in order. I would usually arrive back home sometime after 10:00 PM. Because of this schedule, I usually only worked three days a week, so the income wasn't real good. The company also had no health insurance for their employees.

At first, I wondered what I had done wrong, wondered why God had "put me on the sidelines". I felt like I was in a desert. Sitting on the bus gave me plenty of opportunity to read, think, and pray. God began to teach me about trust and patience. He reminded me that he was the most important one in my life, and that my identity was in Jesus, not in being a teacher or coach. I began to rethink even more of my assumptions about God, church, and life. At the same time, God was teaching me increasingly to trust him. Jan and I saw God provide for us again and again.

In January 2006, I walked out of the desert. I was hired as a teacher's assistant in a self-contained special education class at a public middle school. The kids I work with all have learning disabilities, some more severe than others. Many of them are from low income families. Quite a change from the Christian schools previously worked in, although not as much as I would have thought. Kids are kids wherever you go.

Also in January, both my mom and my mother-in-law went into a nursing home. Jan's mom suffered a stroke, and my mom was suffering from advanced Alzhiemer's. Our ministry to our parents changed somewhat, as we were visiting our moms and essentially being there for our dads. It was hard to go into a place full of people who were essentially waiting to die and visit Mom, knowing that she would never leave in this life.

I'll give your eyes a rest and write more later.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Working At Cross Purposes

Last week, there was a somewhat comical scene on the shuttle bus. There were two brothers sitting in the seat just to the right of my seat. A parent brought a snow cone machine for me to take to camp, so I asked the boys to move to another seat. That's when the fun started. The younger brother, who was sitting on the inside, decided he was going to go first. As he headed into the aisle, his lunchbox became hung up on his older brother's leg. The older brother could not move his leg because it was blocked by the younger brother's backpack. The younger brother couldn't move either, because he was hung up on the older brother's backpack. All the while, I'm standing there with the base to a snow cone machine in my hands hoping for a place to put it down quickly. As I surveyed the situation, I came up with a solution. I began to direct the brothers on what to do, but they simply tried again to get out of the seat at the same time. Of course, the results were the same. After a couple of minutes of directing them, they finally extricated themselves and moved to another seat. My comic relief for the day had come early.

As I thought about it later in the day, I realized that the problems the brothers had were a good picture of what happens so often in our lives. It can happen in the workplace, in the home, in relationships, or in churches. Sometimes it seems that we are just working at cross purposes with other people. We think we know what needs to be accomplished and how it needs to be done, but we just can't seem to get the other folks to see things the same way we do. We also can't see past our narrow perspective. Fortunately, the brothers on the bus didn't do what we so often do. They didn't get mad at each other, start hitting each other or flinging cross words. Neither of them walked away from the other and refused to sit with him. The rest of the week they got along great with each other. Unfortunately, we often do those very things, even in the church.

The brothers just needed someone to direct them and tell them what to do. Of course, they also needed to listen to the directions, or the results would have the same old same old. We have One who has given us directions to follow when our purposes and those of others end up getting tangled. Jesus gave us a few things to keep in mind that I believe will help us keep peace at the very least, and will allow us to do what is really important. Our Master told us to love one another as he loves us, to lay down our lives for others. That may include giving up our plans and trying to see another's perspective. We are told to seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness first. I've found that tends to radically change my way of looking at things. We are called to consider others better than ourselves, and to have the same humble, sacrificial attitude that Jesus had. Paul also tells us that what really counts is faith working itself out in love.

An attitude of sacrificial love will enable us to work together with others to solve problems that come up. I believe that this can work in every area of our day-to-day. I especially believe that it is a mandate for the church. Those outside the church don't have the same command or motivation to love, but those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus must seek to settle differences and try to work together for the good of the Kingdom. To do otherwise is to give the world a reason to wonder if we really belong to Christ.

God help us to submit our purposes to our King, for his glory

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

Summer has hit full on here in the sunny South. It has been above 100 degrees the last two days, and is expected to stay that way for the next two. After that it's going to cool all the way down to the high 90s. A large area of the country is under record high temperatures and dry conditions so, a number of cities are cancelling 4th of July fireworks for fear of setting fires. Our town still has the pyrotechnics scheduled, but you never know. Pray for folks who may be without AC, or who have to be out working in this heat, as well as for this impacted by the recent storms.

Here is a sampling of the good things on the web:

I guess some folks see a difference?
Thanks, Ghandi.
If you find yourself praying.
This could be the issue that tips the election (HT: iMonk).
I know some folks who would go for this.

New theory on Stonehenge (HT: Scot McKnight).
What's in a name?
How new is it?
Who's in charge?
Mortgaging the ministry.

Bobby Auner takes us back to preschool.
Arthur Sido on rest.
Taking Jesus seriously.
More like fruit that grows.
Alan Knox on duplication.

Have a great week! I hope your AC continues to work.

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...