Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

The first week of school is finished. It was a short week for the students as we eased into the year. No use jumping right in with both feet. My duties have changed, and I am spending most of the day in a self contained class. It's a small class, and so far the students are doing fairly well. I'm sure things will change throughout the year, as they always do. Here in the sunny South we are waiting to see what the the tropical storm/hurricane Isaac is going to do. It all depends on a front coming down from the north. We'll see.

Here are the links:

Barking like a dog may not be a spiritual gift.
Discipling as discipleship.
What if we didn't have "church"?
The multi-site option is growing.
Psunday Psalms: Psalm 2.

Good post from Eric Carpenter.
I can relate to this post from Brant Hansen.
Funny post from Frank Viola.
Dan Edelen on a question.
Thoughtful poem by Jonnia Smith.

Make pancakes.
Shattered reality (HT: Alan Knox).
Caring for those who've got it made.
Vow-keeping faith.
Stuff that never happened.

Good words from Jon Acuff.
Focusing on the flame by Keith Giles.
Orientation by Zack Hunt.
Allen Madding on being the church.
At odds with America.

Rolls Royce pickups.
Chocolate (HT: Scot McKnight).
New quiz show.
Shark callers.
What did Paul think of his subordinates?

Have a blessed week.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Repost: Falsetto Spirituality

First posted August 6, 2008.

In Soul Graffiti, Mark Scandrette writes, "A fascination with the supernatural can be a sign of spiritual fragmentation, a falsetto spirituality that strains to reach beyond the normal". As I pondered that statement, I realized that it is so true in much of what is called Christianity.

The obvious examples of this "fascination with the supernatural" are those who run from place to place seeking signs and wonders and "fresh anointing" from God. The supposed moving of God can keep arenas, and ministry accounts, full for months as people swarm to experience a touch from God to lift their lives above the ordinary sameness of their daily lives. While some would consider these events on the fringe, there are other examples that hit a bit closer to home.

Mainstream evangelicalism is concerned with showing people how to have their best life now, with programs that will enable folks to experience a life that rises above the ordinary. Church leaders are given opportunities to learn the secrets of success from The CEO: Jesus. Congregations strive to be extraordinary and have bigger and better facilities and programs. Supernatural power that gets prayers answered and our needs (wants) supplied is constantly sought.

Even those of a more conservative, fundamental bent are not immune to a hunger for the supernatural. They seek a home far away in heaven, a home where the physical no longer matters, a place to escape this broken world. Many of the rules and regulations in fundamental groups seem designed to limit contact with this physical world and its "corruption".

I'm not saying that the supernatural does not matter. I am awed when God performs genuine miracles of healing, and when he provides for his people in supernatural ways. I rejoice when prayers are answered and when godly leaders influence others to follow Jesus Christ. I too believe that this world is broken and corruption runs deep.

What I am saying, and what I think is the point of the quotation from Scandrette, is that the normal, ordinary parts of our lives matter. We are called to follow Jesus here and now, not in a future existence outside of this world. Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom was here, that the King had arrived. Christ's Kingdom is not of this world, but it does have an impact on this world. We have been given the commission and privilege to participate in the work that God is currently doing in this world.

If we look around us with eyes that can see, we can notice how God is working in the day-to-day of our lives. In fact, I think the really supernatural and miraculous thing is that the Creator of all things uses broken, ordinary people like us to do the work of restoring his creation, a work that will finally be complete when Jesus returns. The work of the Kingdom is not just those things that we see as "spiritual". It sometimes involves getting dirty and dealing with ordinary things. But, then again, Jesus used ordinary things. He used spit and dirt to heal a blind man, for goodness sake! Why do we think we have to "rise above the ordinary".

Look for God at work in the ordinary, and ask him where he wants you to fit into what he is doing. Don't run after the supernatural. Remember, many times a falsetto voice doesn't sound very good.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

World Vision Wednesday

Many American families are struggling in the midst of  the nation's economic troubles. It is difficult, and in some cases impossible for parents to provide the materials necessary for their children to be successful in school. World Vision is working to provide children in need with basic school supplies. For more information see this.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

Summer vacation is over. Jan began classes at the school where she teaches, and I began in-service meetings this week. Our students come back on the 22nd. I'm not sure what my duties will be this year, as they've made a few changes. I'm sure that whatever I'm assigned to do will change multiple times throughout the year.

Here is some of what I've been reading this week:

Good post about church planting.
The felicity of Christ.
So, apparently God runs a fast food franchise? Sad.
Arthur Sido asks a good question.
Image vs. reality (HT: Scot McKnight).

The paradox of generous living.
Beautiful! (HT: Jake Belder)
Ronnie McBrayer on doubt.
The Internet Monk on baseball.
Alan Knox on doctrine.

Everybody wants to rule the world.
A parable.
Good poem by Emily Gibson.
For the sick.
Helping each other follow Jesus.

Is it really all that matters?
Interesting, and disturbing.
Finding ekklesia.
Great story.
Interesting post.

Have a blessed week

Monday, August 13, 2012

Repost: Hummingbirds II

Originally posted on July 10, 2008.

A while back, I wrote about the hummingbirds that come to our feeder. A couple of days ago, I was sitting on the back porch and a hummingbird came to the feeder. It was interesting to watch because it spent all the time looking around to see if another bird was going to come chase it away. The poor thing never did get any nectar because it was afraid of the other hummingbird.

I got to thinking how often we are like that hummingbird. We are afraid to really follow Jesus because we are afraid of being attacked, by non-Christians and by Christians. Those of us who grew up in more conservative circles know what it's like to always worry about doing something that will "harm your testimony" or "offend another Christian". When I first began to realize that many of the things I was taught when I was younger were more in line with the culture that grew around the American Church in the past century than with what the Bible teaches, I still had times of looking over my shoulder in fear of what people might think or say.

That is not a Christ-honoring way of thinking. Jesus has set us free from the expectations and opinions of others. He has called us to follow him, not any system or philosophy concocted by human beings. A quick glance at the history of Christ followers shows the diversity in the ways we are called to follow. Beyond what we find in the New Testament, Jesus did not give us an exhaustive list of how to live our lives. Yes, there are certain principles that inform our lives, the most important being love God and love others. But there is a lot of life that is not as cut and dried as some would like to think.

Galations 5:1 Paul tells us that it is for freedom that Christ set us free. Galations 5:13 does tell us that we are not use our freedom as an excuse to sin, but much of the time that verse is misused as a weapon to get people to do what a particular group or person wants them to do.

We are free. Free to follow Christ in the way that he calls us, without worrying about what other people think. What can they do? Take our things? It all belongs to God anyway. Will they refuse fellowship? We have fellowship with the Father. Will they try to damage our reputation? What reputation? We're all broken people in need of God's grace and none of us is better than another. Will they take away our position? That frees us up to pursue another avenue of service. The worst they can do is kill us. If they do that, then we are with Christ. If we realize that all we are is because of God's grace and that Jesus loves us no matter what, we can then be free to live our lives as the Holy Spirit leads us and become more like Jesus according to his schedule, not ours or any body else's.

Don't be like the hummingbird. Spend time drinking the nectar of God's amazing grace instead of looking around to see who might attack you.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

Summer camp is over and it's bittersweet. I get to sleep in for a few days before school starts and can get some things done around the house. I always enjoy driving the shuttle bus and hanging out with the folks at camp, and I will miss that. It's a nice change of pace from the school year and replaces the coaching money I earn during the school year. It has cooled down a bit here in the sunny South and there hasn't been as much sun as usual. The Olympics are winding down, and the United States teams have done well. As a matter of fact, I heard that if the US women were a country, they would be third in the medal count, behind the US and China. Not too shabby.

Anyway, here are the links:

Been there.
This is very good.
Good post by Cindy Johnston.
Alan Knox on unity.

Standing on a new frontier.
Three little words.
Love vs. power.
Surprising encouragement.

Craig Schmidt on what Jesus gives.
Encouraging post from Ronnie McBrayer.
On giving to others.
Not irrevocably broken.

Interesting post from Kansas Bob.
Another look from Lisa Dye.
What makes it Christian?
God is bigger.

Absolutely crazy.
Not the church's greatest need.
Scot McKnight agrees with John Piper.
What Jesus does not want.

I hope you enjoy reading a small part of the good writing on the web. Have a blessed week.

Repost: Learning

This is something I wrote a few years ago. I'm putting it up today with the thought that someone may need some encouragement and possibly this will help a bit.

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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given Part 4

In Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen writes about the four words that helped him identify the movements of the Spirit in his life. Those words are, taken, blessed, broken, and given. In previous posts I have looked at the first three. Today, I want to look at the fourth word.

As followers of Jesus, we are to be bread for the world. As such, we are taken (chosen) to be blessed. We are blessed so that we may be broken. We are broken so that we may then be given. The chosenness, blessedness, and brokenness are not just for our benefit, although we do gain from it. Theses things happen to us so that we might be a blessing to others. The communion bread is given for the benefit of others. It is to be the same with us. We do not live for ourselves, we live for others.

Jesus commanded us to love others as he loved us. That means we are to lay down our lives for others. We are to live lives of sacrificial love. Ephesians 5:1 & 2 calls us to imitate our Father by living a life that is characterized by the same love that he showed to us. The Father's love for us is a giving love. Abba loves us simply because he loves us. He gives us his grace regardless of what we do. We are his beloved children and he is pleased with us. Therefore, he loves us.

We are called to the same love that gives. If I do something for someone with an expectation of something in return, I am not showing love. That is a lesson that can be very difficult to learn, but it is necessary. Nouwen states that we find our greatest fulfillment in giving our self to others. I think he is right. After the fulfillment we find only in God, our greatest sense of worth comes when we are able to show God's love to another individual. We can see this sense of fulfillment in those who don't know Christ yet give to others.

This giving must be a conscious, deliberate thing. It is not going to happen automatically. We must determine day by day to give ourselves away. We can do this as we embrace being chosen by the Father, being blessed by him, experiencing brokenness, and realizing that all of this is so that God can give us to others. Paul writes that it is Christ who lives in us. It is Jesus who empowers us to give ourselves.

The giving can take many forms. It can be helping someone move, or repairing something around their house. It can be having them over for a meal. It can be something as simple as just spending time with someone and really listening to them without judging or trying to "fix" things (That's hard for some of us). It doesn't matter what form the giving takes as long as it is done for the good of another without expecting anything in return, simply because we love the other person. Being in community with other believers and sharing our lives with them will teach us to give, and to receive, as we interact as brothers and sisters.

As we live a life of sacrificial love, we can even give to others in our death. Our legacy can inspire others to give themselves as they remember the love that God showed them through us. A few years ago, a commercial for a pizza brand asked, "What do you want on your Tombstone?" A good thing for a Christian to be able to have on their tombstone when they die would be, "He showed us Jesus." That would sum up a life lived as one taken, blessed, broken, and given.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

World Vision Wednesday: Darrell Dow Guest Post

This guest post comes to you courtesy of Darrell Dow, who writes over at], via Wikimedia Commons" href="">The Ella Gap view towards the South Coast, Sri Lanka

Want to take a trip with me to an exotic place halfway around the world? On August 23rd I'll be leaving for the exotic island nation of Sri Lanka with a group of World Vision Bloggers and I'd love for you to come with us! Each day this bunch of talented writers, bloggers, and storytellers will be telling the story of Sri Lanka and how sponsoring children through World Vision changes lives there.

The greatest part of this trip is that you don't have to leave your desk. I'll be happy to deal with all the shots, passports, airports, jet lag and language barriers -- all you have to do is tag along by visiting my blog at In the meantime feel free to check out my World Vision page and learn all about how child sponsorship works.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Repost: Hummingbirds

This was first posted on February 28, 2008.

We have a hummingbird feeder outside our back porch and it's fun to watch them hover and drink the sugar water. It's interesting that they have to come back often to drink because of the amount of energy they expend flapping their wings at such a fast rate.

Another thing I've noticed about hummingbirds is that they are very territorial. An aggressive hummingbird will chase others away from the feeder and will actually sit in a nearby tree watching for an interloper. In fact, a beautiful ruby throated hummingbird that was the first to come to the feeder was driven away completely by a brown one. It seems to me that an amazing amount of energy is wasted defending something that never belonged to them. The feeder is there because of the good graces of my wife and me. So instead of sharing the bounty with the other birds, one bird wastes his energy to defend something that is a gift and not his to keep.

How often are we, the Church, like that. We take the grace that has been freely given us and jealously guard it from those who don't agree with us in everything. We think that God's grace, like the sugar water, was given to us alone. We put God in a little box and try to interpret everything by the limits of that box. We waste an awful lot of energy defending things that either are indefensible, or are not vital. Then, we don't have the time or energy to spend on the real work that Jesus gave us to do - making disciples who follow the Christ.

I'm not saying that Biblical truth doesn't matter or that we should adopt an "I'm okay, you're okay" philosophy. I am saying that we need to take a hard look at what we believe and make sure that we believe it because it matches up with what God says rather than because "it's the way we've always been taught". Is our Christianity Biblical or cultural? Did the faith we hold begin in the 1st century or in the 19th and 20th centuries?

Are we disciples of Jesus? Or, are we hummingbirds?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

Weekend Wanderings was off last week. Jan and I helped a friend move last Thursday and Friday, then drove to my sister's house for the weekend. While we were exhausted, the weekend was very restful. This week has been busy, but again the weekend promises to be restful. Our daughter, Jennie is in town for a few days and we are enjoying spending time with her. It's been interesting watching the Olympics. It's appropriate that they are in Great Britain, because some of the stories that have come out seem like they could have been Monty Python skits. A scandal in badminton? Really?

Anyway, here are the gold medal links for the week:

A tough lesson to learn.
Be afraid.
Junia's friends.
2012 church olympics.

We all need a tender heart.
Good questions from Eric Carpenter.
Good post from Frank Viola.
Brant Hansen on evil.
Dan Edelen on Romans 8:28.

The awesomeness of Jesus.
Alan Knox has a good question.
Atrocities and the nagging question.
A question from J.R. Miller.

Just like Jesus.
What about next Wednesday?
Arthur Sido on rendering to Caesar.
"Enter to worship...leave to serve."
Getting wet.

Jeff Dunn writes about isolation.
Ronnie McBrayer on what is behind the beauty.
Here's a new airline to try (HT: Scot McKnight).
An iMonk classic.

I hope you enjoy the reading. Have a blessed week!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

World Vision Wednesday

During the Olympic Games, the world's top athletes are displaying their talents for everyone to see. Around the world, there are other games that don't get the same attention. To the children playing these games,they are just as much fun and may be as important. To see more, check this out.

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...