Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

This has been an interesting week. I have learned a lot about myself and about others. Sometimes the lessons are hard, but I'm praying that the Father will use them to shape me into who he wants me to be.

On to the good stuff:

Arthur Sido on the result of community.
Worldly leadership in the church.
Kansas Bob on the apology.
Spotting Pharisees.
Dan Edelen had a dream.

Alan Knox on teaching and living.
Tony Campolo on evangelicals and Newt.
Different tools.
Nothing in my hand I bring.
Transformation of the heart.

Wayward Son on Tim Tebow.
If it's going to be...
Good news for us coffee drinkers.
More on community.
The American way of life and community.
When the body functions together.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Cave

Papa! Papa! Where am I?

How did I get here? It's so dark. I can't see a thing!
I remember walking along the path with my friends. Next thing I know I'm waking up here in the dark. I think I remember the path passing near the entrance of a cave. Is that where I am?

How do you feel?

Everything hurts. I feel like I got hit by a truck. Now I remember. We were walking along when I was hit by something. Who would have done something like this?

An Enemy has done this.

Papa, it hurts so bad! I don't understand! I'm all alone here in the darkness and I feel like everyone has abandoned me!

You are not alone. Your most trusted long time companion is near, waiting for you. I am here.

How did this happen? Everything seemed good. There was some loose rock on the path at times, and there were some places where part of the path had washed away. but I thought we had gotten past them. I thought this part of the journey was going well. I thought we were together.

Papa?

I'm broken. I feel like I can't move. I'm afraid to try because I can't see and I don't know if it's safe. I don't know what to do!

Do you remember the time you spent in the desert learning to trust me rather than what you expected me to do?

Yes, I do. That was hard.

You still have more to learn.

Does it have to be so painful? I'd rather lose a job again than feel so hurt and rejected!

Papa, what do I do?

Stay here for awhile. Don't move. I know it's dark and you're scared, but I'm here with you. You are broken, but my love will heal you. You are safe here. Learn again to trust me. No matter what.

When the time comes, I will lead you out of this place, and you and the person who truly loves you will continue on in your journey with me.

Papa, help me! I have no strength.

I know. I am your strength. I love you, son.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Has It Really Been That Long?

Tomorrow is Josh's 29th birthday. It doesn't seem like it has been that many years ago. The day he came into the world was a Sunday, the day after the Washington Redskins won the NFC championship and a week before they won the Super Bowl. Needless to say, one of the things that we have shared is being 'Skins fans. Of course, that makes sense, since one of the other things we have in common is a love of sports.

Josh grew up in the gym. During one basketball season when he was young, he sat on the bench with me and had the job of keeping me calm when the referees weren't doing their job. He did a pretty good job of it, as I recall. We went to basketball camps together, and when Josh was in high school we played golf together. Actually, he played. I chased the ball all over the course. It was always special watching him play whatever sport he was involved in, coaching him when I had the chance, and just watching and talking about sports.

Another thing we have shared is a love for books. Josh learned to read at an early age, and from that time until now he has always had a book that he is reading. That love of reading has served him well. Sometimes, when I can't get hold of a book elsewhere, I'll borrow one of Josh's. I've read some interesting writing that way.

The most important thing we share, and the most gratifying to see, is a love for Jesus. As my love for my Savior has grown, I have seen Josh grow closer to him and learn to follow him more closely. That means more to me than anything else. It has been a joy to see Josh's faith deepen as he has asked questions and learned to think for himself. His faith is not one which was simply passed down. It is his, a real, vital faith that plays itself out in his day-to-day.

Now, my son is engaged to be married to a wonderful young lady who also loves Jesus. He has had some ups and downs in the relationship department, and it is good to see his patience pay off in such a remarkable way. I am confident that Josh will be a good husband and father.

29 years has flown by. I couldn't begin to tell you of all the memories, or to express how proud of him we are. We have been truly blessed.

Josh, we pray that the Father will bless you richly and give you many years to love and follow him. We pray that you will be blessed with children that are as much a blessing to you as you are to us. We love you Josh. Happy Birthday.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

This week went by as quickly as last week did slowly. It's been raining here in the sunny for the last couple of days. My JV girls basketball team is starting to get it. We have a two game winning streak going after last night's game. Hopefully we can build on that in the remaining games. We voted in the primary today. Not very exciting, but I'm not quite to the point of giving up totally on the political process. I just don't put my trust in it.

Here is the good stuff:

The more I read things like this, the more I'm struck with the implications of following Jesus (HT: Scot McKnight).
Jake Belder writes about pilgrimage.
Kansas Bob asks a good question.
Wonder Bread Christianity.
This is true in both public and private.

Who knew?
Are you exhausted? (HT: Alan Knox)
I can relate to so much of this.
Sometimes it's funny how a cartoon can speak to your heart.
Mission.

Jon Acuff writes about scars.
Ronnie McBrayer's Blue Bomber.
Leaning into the future.
Jo Hilder on God's perfect will.
Justification and work.

Donald Miller on embracing all of life.
Life 100 years from now?
How do we edify others?
A special kind of crazy.
More of Jesus.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

1 Corinthians 13 for the Elections

This is a repost from November, 2008. As we get deeper into the campaign season it seems as if those who call themselves Christians are even more divided this year than four years ago.

If I speak with a silver tongue and can sway hundreds, but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all polls,
and if I have a faith that can move political mountains, but have not love,
I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the national committee
and surrender my time to run a phone bank, but have not love,
I gain nothing.

Love is patient with those of the other party.
It is not jealous of opponent's fund raising,
it does not boast of its candidate, it is not proud.

It does not rudely argue political points, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered when others disagree, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in negative campaigns
but rejoices in the truth.

It always protects the reputation of Christ, always trusts God is in control,
always hopes for the best, always perseveres in living as a disciple of Jesus.

Love never fails. But where there are campaign promises,
they will be broken;
where there are silver tongued orators,
they will be stilled;
where there is knowledge of how to govern,
it will pass away.

For we have partial knowledge and we govern with that knowledge,
but when the True King comes, imperfect government will disappear.

When I was a partisan, I talked like a partisan,
I thought like a partisan,I reasoned like a partisan.

When I recognized who the True King is,
I put partisan ways behind me.

Now we see but a poor reflection;
then we shall see face to face.

Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Confession Time

I have a confession to make. I don't follow Jesus perfectly. That's not the confession though. If you are reading this, you don't follow Jesus perfectly either. As far as I can tell, Enoch is the one who walked the closest with God, and one day he just wasn't there. I haven't seen that happen with anyone else.

My confession is this: I don't follow Jesus freely. Coming from a background where my actions and obedience counted for more than what was in my heart, it has been relatively easy for me to feel free to do certain things that I was taught were sin. That is not the problem. The problem is that, in trying to follow Jesus, I have been wearing chains that have kept me from freely doing so.

I have tried to be the perfect disciple. I have tried to always say the right thing and always be there for those who need help or are hurting. God has blessed (cursed?) me with a soft heart and in my desire to empathize with people and show them God's love, I have tried too hard. When things go wrong, I beat myself up because I have not done a good job of loving, serving, being a friend, etc. Just ask Jan. I'll even beat myself up because I beat myself up!

I came to the realization today that Jesus has not called me to follow him perfectly. He simply calls me to follow him. He has called me to be free. Galatians 5:1 says that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Think about it. Christ has set us free so we can be free! Free from sin, yes. Free from death, yes. Free from guilt, yes. I realized that he has also set us free from anything that would keep us from following him with a wild abandon. Free from the opinions and expectations of others. Free from always having to do or say the right thing. Free from second guessing and beating ourselves up. Free to fully trust the love of the Father, the power of the Spirit to change lives, and the promise in Romans 8:28 that God does work in everything for the good of us becoming like Christ. I've always "believed" that in my head and gave lip service, but I want to grasp hold of those truths and hold onto them with everything in me.

I want to follow my Lord and Savior with every fiber of my being, to hear only my Shepherd's voice and be trusting enough to follow him with abandon. I want to love others recklessly, to give myself as Jesus did, to simply do whatever my Master tells me to do, regardless. I want to believe without question that my Father loves me even when I'm not perfect, and that he can and will redeem my screw-ups and bring good out of them. I want to not second guess myself, and I want others to see Jesus in me to such an extent that they don't doubt the goodness of my heart or the love of Jesus.

On top of all that, I want to be and do all this without trying. I want to come to know my Jesus so intimately that it all comes out of my union with him. It seems like a lot to ask for, but my Father is over all and I believe he wants that for me. All I have to do is take it.

I want to follow Jesus freely, not perfectly.

World Vision Wednesday

From World Vision:

VIDEO: How to change the world



So you want to change the world, but wanting to change the world, and changing the world are two separate things. See how advocates really can be catalysts for change.


Three things you can do

Pray. Ask God to show you how he might use you to be a voice for the poor and give you the courage to speak out.

Visit our Advocate Network to learn about the serious issues impacting children and families trapped in poverty and you can speak out on their behalf.

Speak out in support of humanitarian aid funding. Critical, life-saving assistance to combat hunger, child mortality, and diseases like AIDS and malaria makes up less than one percent of the federal budget, but may be subject to devastating and disproportionate cuts. Urge Congress to protect these programs. There are few places in the U.S. federal budget where dollars translate so directly into lives saved.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Accountability and Focus

Some of you may have been part of an accountability group at some time in your life. I've been in men's groups that began with the intent to be that. Interestingly, those groups broke up before the amount of trust necessary was built up. As my understanding of grace and the Gospel has changed over the years, my view of such groups has also changed.

I do believe it is vital for God's people to spend time with one another to exhort and build up each other, and that we are called to make disciples. I think the focus of many accountability groups is on the wrong thing. Of course, that may be due to the fact that the focus of many churches is wrong. Accountability groups are usually formed in an attempt to help a group of folks stop doing any number of sinful behaviors. The idea is that if a member knows he will be asked if he did _____________________ during the time between meetings. That may cause enough fear to keep them from committing that sin. It also may drive them to lie and become more adept at hiding it. Focusing on sin can create an atmosphere of self-righteousness on the part of those who can control themselves, and failure and shame on the part of those who continue to stumble.

I believe that our focus in the church and in any group of Christ-followers should be on Jesus and what he has done for us. When Jesus cried, "It is finished!" I believe that he meant more than just the work of sacrificing himself for our sins. I believe that Jesus was saying that it all is finished, that there is nothing else for us to do. Once we are adopted as God's children, we are in Christ. We are the Father's beloved sons and daughters, and we have the Holy Spirit living in us. There is nothing we must or can do to earn God's favor, it is already ours.

As we focus on God's love for us and the fact that we are God's children, our mindset becomes one of desiring to live like the sons and daughters of God that we are. Rather than focus on our sins and trying harder to do better, we remember that because Jesus has done it all, we can do what God wants us to do. When we do sin, it is because we have forgotten who we are. Look at the letters of Paul in the New Testament. He is constantly telling his readers to live like the people they really are, not like the ones they used to be.

We do need to exhort and encourage each other. We cannot live without it. Rather than trying to find out if a brother or sister has sinned in the past week, we need to remind each other that it is finished. Jesus has done it all and God has given us everything we need to live a godly life. As we give each other the Gospel, we remind each other to live out of our heritage because we are God's children and we have his nature in us. We are a new creation.

Don't focus on sin. Focus on Jesus.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

This has been one of those weeks that you wish had never happened and that you're glad is over. I am thankful that the Father is in charge and not me. I know he works and can redeem my mistakes and stumbles. Winter has made a reappearance here in the sunny South, so I'm staying inside as much as possible. At least it's sunny.

Here's the good stuff:

Are you thirsty?
Jesus and masculinity.
The word for 2012.
Chip Macgregor on the Father.
Arthur Sido on church clothes.

God's winning team.
A review of Len Sweet's new book.
Jared Wilson on bearing with one another.
Looking to the interests of others.
Reputation vs. character.

How much is enough?
On being the beloved.
Good post from Jon Acuff.
Larry Shallenberger reviews All is Grace.
Some good news.

Leaving our preferences at the cross.
Another book review.
"Christian." m

I hope you have a wonderful week.

Friday, January 13, 2012

This Blog Post Can Save a Life

By Jessica.Dotta

Have you ever wondered what you would have done had you been alive in 1940 and was one of those who knew about the Holocaust?


Would you have been a person of action or a person of silence?


It is perhaps one of the most important issues to wrestle with. More than once in our lifetime we will find ourselves at a crossroad, one where the decision we make will reveal as much about our character as our convictions.


There is a genocide happening right now in Northern Sudan. The government is eradicating their own people. If we don’t speak up and help, no one else will. Each time North Sudan launches an attack to kill their own people, and we in the Western world remain silent, we give our permission to continue.


It is easier to overlook what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Sudan because the task feels overwhelming and thinking about it can make us feel helpless.


The truth of the matter is that one person alone cannot save the Nuba People. But a community of people acting in unison can.


One of the most extraordinary acts found in mankind is when a member of the human race deliberately goes out of his way to help another. It is love in action. It is loving your neighbor. It is doing unto others, as you would have them do unto you.


This month, The Persecution Project Foundation has launched a campaign called Save the Nuba. In order to prevent another genocide, they need the help that only a community can offer.


For those who can afford it, the need for food and medicine is desperate.



For those who have little to give, they’re asking for petitions signed, for awareness to


be spread through social media (Facebook, Twitter and blogs.)


For those who are passionate about this cause, they need your help raising awareness.


Will you join us in speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves?


Please visit www.SavetheNuba.com to learn ways you can help.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Facebook and Community

Facebook has become quite the cultural phenomenon. One indication that something is popular and successful is the number of attempts to copy it. I like Facebook, in fact I have it open in another window as I type this. Because of Facebook, I have reconnected with folks I went to high school and college with as well as former students. It helps Jan and me keep up better with what is going on in our son's and daughter's lives. It is a good way to keep in touch with family and former friends and acquaintances.

Facebook becomes a problem when people use it to try to replace real friendships. It is relatively easy to pile up a lot of "friends," especially if you have lived a few years and known many people. While these "friends" may have been friends at one time, if the only contact we have with them is on a social networking site, I question whether they can really be called friends. Unfortunately, this is not limited to those whose friendship was based on common interests, work, or school. I can see how those might have faded after a while as interests change, and people moved away.

This way of seeing friends also exists in the church. It manifests itself in mega-churches, where many members are acquaintances who have a "relationship" with hundreds of folks who they may see once a week or so. It also manifests itself in those who actually use Facebook as a substitute for real friendship and community. Those of us who follow Jesus are more than just "friends." We are brothers and sisters. We are members of one Body. We are members of one another. We are called to live in community.

I don't believe that we can recreate the first century church, nor should we. We live in different times, with different issues. But I do believe the attitude the early Christians had is the same attitude we are called to. They were devoted to Jesus Christ as the King who gave himself for them and was in control of their lives. They were devoted to each other, taking Jesus at his word when he said that love was laying down their life for their friends (how many would lay down their lives for "friends" who they only deal with online).

Living in real community doesn't necessarily mean that we move into a house together or set up a commune. It does mean that we are devoted to those God has brought into our lives because we are devoted to Christ and because we have the same Father. It can be messy and difficult. It is easy to type "praying" on a Facebook status. It is harder to pray in person with that person. It is harder to sacrifice time and effort to help that person. It is harder still to meet that friend at the police station, hospital, or morgue when something has gone terribly wrong. How many of our on-line friends could, or would do that for us. How many would lay down their lives for us.

We are called to follow Jesus. He didn't just click on the "Like" button for us or leave a nice comment on our status. He lived to show us how to live and then he did the ultimate. He laid down his life for us, his friends. We are commanded to do the same. It can't be done on-line. It must be real life.

Re-post: The Lord is My Shepherd

The silly (political) season is heating up. I remembered this post that I wrote some time back.

I came across something cool the other day. It has to do with a slightly different angle on Psalm 23. One way of looking at the phrase "The Lord is my shepherd" - evidently in the times that this was written the kings and rulers of different empires presented themselves as the "shepherd" of their people who would take care of all of their needs (not unlike politicians today, who try to convince voters by making all sorts of promises). So the Psalmist is saying, "the Lord is my shepherd", not any earthly ruler. I like that way of looking at it. It doesn't take away all of the other facets of God being our shepherd, it just adds to it.

So to all those out there who are hoping on human rulers, whether Democrat, Libertarian, or Republican, liberal, conservative, or moderate - The Lord, the creator of all things, the ruler over all - He is my shepherd. He is the one who will meet all my needs. I put my trust in Him, not in person or party.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

World Vision Wednesday

World Vision continues its response in areas of the Horn of Africa devastated by drought. While conditions have begun to improve in parts of the region, challenges remain for the families who live there and the aid workers who are trying to provide assistance. To read more about it see this.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

Another week has come and gone here in the sunny South. Today the high temperature was 74 degrees with sunny skies. The political season is heating up and it will be interesting to see how long some of the candidates will hang on before calling it quits. The primary here in South Carolina is the 21st. I'm still trying to decide if I really want to even bother with voting. I'm pretty much fed up with both parties as it is, so it's hard to get excited about any of them. Tonight our group served dinner to about 15 men at a local homeless shelter. As always, we were blessed as much as or more than the men we served.

On to the really important stuff:

Faith and computers.
An iMonk classic.
Rob Merola on relationships (HT: Scot McKnight).
A parable.
Beloved.

The one who loves much.
Think you're on the back burner?
Marriage as vocation.
The Good Samaritan.
Church and dysfunctional family.

Have you ever felt that God is not talking to you right now?
Arthur Sido talks politics, sort of.
Keith Giles asks a good question.
Jeff Dunn's non-resolution.
Jesus and masculinity.

God actually cares about those people?
Resolving to be shameless.
Jesus wept....

Have a blessed week.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

World Vision Wednesday

For those women out there who are interested in making a difference in the world, there is a conference being held in Washington D.C. in March. Check out this site for details.

A Poem: Home Again

I wrote this one a couple weeks ago. HOME AGAIN It’s been said that you can’t go home again I decided to see for myself, so ...