Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

It's been a beautiful autumn weekend here in the sunny South. Of course, it's August. We're finishing up one of the coolest and wettest summers on record. School has begun, and volleyball practice starts Monday. I'll be working with the 7th grade team this year, so I'll be doing more teaching.

Enough small talk. Here are the links:

Should Christianity be so boring?
The insanity of prayer.
The Gospel and the American Dream.
Your state and your rep's religion.
Superhero Christianity.

Mike Bell asks an important question.
Jon Acuff is on a rollercoaster.
Alan Knox on the gospel.
Zack Hunt finds the kingdom of God in an interesting place.
Kelley J. Leigh writes a good post.

What is beauty, anyway?
Blessed assurance.
True meaning of influence.
7 obnoxious Jesus jukes.
Good question.

It's been a busy weekend, and I'm tired. I hope you have a blessed week!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blast From the Past: Gold

This was originally posted on May 20, 2010. The commercials are still running, with different people.

According to G. Gordon Liddy and others, gold is what will save us in these tough economic times. At least it will save our financial portfolios. Besides the question of whether you would buy a used car from that man (a few years ago, Liddy was pushing mutual funds), there are other issues with the pitch being made by the gold sellers, at least for those of us who follow Jesus.

The commercials are based on fear. Fear of the future, fear of the government, fear of losing the American Dream. In contrast, believers are told to not fear. We do not fear because we are children of the Creator of the universe. God gives us a spirit of adoption, not a spirit of fear. Jesus tells us to not fear those who can kill the body (I would add, or take our things), but to fear God. We are loved by a Father who tells us not to worry about the material things, because he knows even the number of hairs on our heads (of course, it's easier for him to do that with some of us).

The other thrust of the buy gold campaign is security. In one ad, Liddy drops gold coins into one hand and says, "That's the sound of security." He's telling us that his security is in a bunch of rocks that come out of the ground. I wonder what he would say if the price of an ounce of gold suddenly dropped to a much lower amount. Where would his security be then?

As humans, we tend to put our security into what we can see, whether it's minerals, jobs, possessions, or people. It's perfectly natural for someone to put his security in gold. For the Christian however, our security is to be in God alone. In Romans 8, Paul tells us that there is nothing in the entire universe that can separate us from the love of God. I think that counts as security, don't you? All through Scripture, God's children are encouraged to trust their Father to take care of them and meet their needs.

I really don't have any problem with people planning their financial future. We do need to be aware of the danger of making things like gold, retirement accounts, and home equity idols that we put our trust in rather than putting our trust in the One who has promised to take care of us.

Besides, if the literalists are correct, when we get to heaven we'll be walking on streets paved with gold, so it can't be worth all that much. :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

School begins this week. The teachers went back last Wednesday, and the students come in this coming Wednesday. I think I'm ready. For some reason the weather around here thinks that it's October rather than August. It's been in the 50s at night and 60s and 70s during the day. I'm not complaining, although I am wondering if we're still to see near 100 degree temps toward the end of the month.

Here is a taste of the good stuff on the web:

Brant Hansen writes about the cost of children.
Mike Erich has a proverb.
Scot McKnight has some cool food hacks.
Challenging words from Jon Acuff.

The pursuit of enough.
Your life.
Grow up!
Slow church.

I think I'll pass on this.
Chaplain Mike on satisfaction.
Elizabeth Marshall is taking the circuitous route.
M. Morford on value.
This is certainly different.

Losing the war.
Alan Knox has a series on 2 Timothy 2:15. Part 1 is here.
Best definition of freedom.
Andy Stager has more good advice.
And lastly but not leastly, my friend Audrey has started a new blog. It's called Rubies and Remnants. You should check it out, especially if you're into jewelry and vintage stuff. Or even if you're not.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

World Vision Wednesday

World Vision Child Ambassador Paula Hemphill describes how God is using her to advocate for children - despite her fears - and showing her what real love is.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Go Ahead. Be Annoying

Thoreau said, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote about those who die with all their music in them. Many, if not most, people travel from the freedom of childhood to a world where certain things are expected of them. In this world, "normal" is whatever a majority in a group decide, and woe to those who deviate. These people are seen as odd, or annoying.

Melody at dancepartiesintherain, a friend in our church community, has written a good post about growing up as one of those "annoying" folks. This is a good read for anyone who has ever felt like the odd one and been criticized. It was encouraging to this fifty-something who is still learning to be who God created. Check out i didn't know i was annoying. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

It's time again for everyone's favorite blog post, Weekend Wanderings! Or not. It's hot and humid here in the sunny South, and we can't complain too much because it is August after all. The NFL has started preseason games, and the real thing will begin in a few weeks. College football will also be starting soon. It will be interesting to see how this season shakes out. Possibly with a defensive lineman winning the Heisman Trophy? Maybe.

Anyway, on to the links:

It seems things are getting bad over in Iraq. I thought we solved all their problems.
A mystery about the Mona Lisa may be solved.
God loves her, and she got cancer.
This might be an interesting film.
So there's been an injustice? I, for one, am grateful, and don't think I'd like the conviction overturned.

Scot McKnight says we should make trouble.
Andy Stager on casting a vision.
The Merry Monk has a series on pain. Part 1 is here.
Chaplain Mike on community.
Keith Giles has learned some lessons.

Millennials are entitled.
Limited pacifism?
Negotiating the mess.
Letters from Jesus.

Dan Edelen writes about the church's appendix.
Alan Knox on the Lord's Supper.
A bit of praise from Jared Wilson.
This is one reason why I love our church.
Zack Hunt says Jesus was wrong.

That's all for now. Have a blessed week!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Another Lesson Learned

One of the things God has been teaching me about lately is grace. I've had lessons on the Father's grace for me, and how to walk in that grace. I have also been learning what it means to extend that grace to others. It has been said that a little child shall lead them. The other day I learned a lesson on grace from a ten year old boy.

As some of you know, I drive a bus in the mornings and evenings for a local camp. The ages of the kids range from six to twelve. Sometimes things are quiet because they are tired, sometimes it gets a bit noisy because they are still amped up from the day's activities. One day I had asked one of the boys to put his sunscreen away because he was spraying it on the others. Wouldn't you know it, the next day this same boy was spraying his sunscreen again! I raised my voice a bit and told him to bring the sunscreen to me. When I said that I had already talked to him about spraying the stuff, he said that was yesterday and he didn't know he couldn't spray it that day. Unfortunately, I reacted instead of responding. I lost it and yelled at him. He went back to his seat and slumped down. As we drove down the road, I realized that I had screwed up. He's just a ten year old kid, and we all know that ten year old kids don't always say the brightest things. So, I told him, in front of the other kids, that I was wrong and apologized for yelling at him. He said, "It's okay. It happens." He brightened up for the rest of the trip, and things are good between us now.

As I think about this, two things come to mind. The first is the way our Father treats us when we mess up. While he doesn't excuse our sin, he doesn't hold it over our heads either. Scripture says that he remembers our frame. He knows we're not perfect. He doesn't remind us of that. Instead, he reminds us of who we are. We are his children who have the righteousness of Christ, and the sin that we do is not us. It's not who we are. Our Father is quick to forgive and move on, much like the ten year old boy.

The second thing is the way we should treat others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. We love because God first loved us. We are called to show the same grace to others as God shows to us. Jesus told us to forgive others  forty nine, or four hundred ninety times. The actual number doesn't matter. The point is, we are to forgive those who sin against as many times as needed. We are not to keep track, but keep on forgiving. I believe that this assumes relationship, because you're not likely to forgive someone multiple times if they are not around. The boy on the bus didn't tell me that it was okay but he wasn't going to ride my bus anymore. Things between us went back to normal and continued from there. One goal of  forgiveness and reconciliation is to bring wholeness to both parties. Another is to show God's grace and glory to a watching world. Jesus said that the world will know we belong to him by the way we love one another.

Maybe, if  God's children began to really love each other and seek peace and wholeness in our relationships, the world would look at us and see what we have to offer as something they would want. It worked in the first few centuries of the church's existence. Why not now/

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Recycled or Brand New?

The other day I saw a church sign that read, "I was going to waste, but Jesus recycled me." I'm sure the folks meant well, and the sentiment behind the words is a good one. Many things are rescued by being recycled, and Jesus certainly rescues us, but I would take it a step further.

According to the dictionary, something that is recycled is treated and converted into usable material or returned to a previous stage. What God does for us goes far beyond a treatment to make us useful. He creates us as someone brand new! Paul speaks to this in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15. What God has done, based on the finished work of Christ, is created us. We are new creation! There is nothing that is simply treated, reworked, and then fashioned into a better version of the old us. It's all brand spankin' new. As C.S. Lewis wrote, when God comes in, he doesn't just remodel a few rooms here and there, repainting and taking down a few walls, making the place a bit more livable. No, God comes in and tears it all down. Then he builds a completely new house. God takes us and fashions a totally new person, one who is, and who is being made, like Christ.

Don't settle for mere recycling. Live in the realization that you are new creation. The old is no more, because the new is here.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

The summer vacation is winding down here in the sunny South. In just a couple of weeks, school will begin again. This weekend, the stores around here are selling "school supplies" without charging sales tax. I put school supplies in quotes because much of the stuff that is tax free can't even remotely be connected to anything educational. Go figure.

In case you're interested, here are the links for this week:

Letters from Jesus.
Lord let me see.
What if...?
The little girl's tattoo.

Mike Erich on prejudice.
A question from Eric Carpenter.
A convicting question from Zack Hunt.
Good post from Kansas Bob.
Chaplain Mike looks at salvation.

The most interesting theologians in the world.
It is finished. Really.
No plan B.
Being a spear carrier.

A poem from John Blase.
Scot McKnight on the scripts we live by.
Nate Pruitt on humility.
Dan Edelen on the Church's appendix.
Alan Knox on distance and comfort.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

40 Years? Really?

Last week, Jan and I took a trip up north to attend my 40th high school reunion. Hard to believe it's been 40 years! We had a good time, as we combined the reunion with some other stops along the way to see some friends and relatives.

Tuesday, we traveled to Lynchburg, VA, where we spent the night with one of Jan's college roommates. We had a good time catching up. On Wednesday, we drove north to Ashburn, VA and spent a couple days with a nephew and his wife. We did a bit of walking, around their neighborhood and the nearby town of Leesburg. Friday morning, I went with our nephew and played full court basketball for an hour. I survived and I'm actually proud of myself. I played under control, and my mind (which sometimes thinks I'm still in my 20s) didn't convince my body to try something I would regret. I didn't feel too bad the next couple of days. Just a little sore.

After I showed the young guys how to play the game, we traveled to the Rockville, MD area for the reunion as well as some sightseeing. We took a detour to a town near Baltimore where we spent the afternoon with another of Jan's college roommates, along with her husband, father, and daughter-in-law. We had a great time talking and reminiscing. It was good to see them again after a number of years. Friday night found us at a reunion dinner/happy hour. It was good to see some of my classmates, once they told me their names. For some reason, none of us looked the same as we did 40 years ago.

Saturday morning, we got up and took a trip down memory lane. We drove through our old neighborhoods, taking pictures of the schools we attended, the houses in which we lived, the place where we met, and the church where we were married. We also stopped and visited my parents' graves, where I found that I still get choked up after almost seven years. It was good to see the old places, most of which looked pretty good. The yards and playgrounds seem to have shrunk quite a bit over the years. So many memories came to mind during our travels that I couldn't begin to list them here.

After our trip around the past, we went to a cookout where I caught up with even more of my classmates. Again, I remembered them after they told me their names. There was a class picture from 1973 on one wall in the house. It was amazing to see how much hair we all had back then! We ate some good food, had a few drinks, and remembered the good times we had back when. It seemed like a simpler time because we didn't yet have the responsibilities of careers and families. We were the ones who were going to change the world, and some are doing that, although in smaller ways than we imagined. Most of us have grown up to be responsible adults who are doing some good. We have changed, in ways beyond the obvious physical changes. Some of the changes are good, some are not, but the group that graduated from high school in 1973 really doesn't exist anymore.

Sunday morning, we headed for home. On the way, we stopped to see another nephew and his wife, along with their two year old son and their six day old daughter. We went from a bunch of memories to a family that was making their own memories that they can tell about 40 years from now. I got to hold our grand-niece and it was good to hold part of the future. It will be fun to see how her life unfolds, as well as the lives of all of our grand- nieces and grand-nephews.

Thomas Wolfe wrote that you can't go home again. Maybe you can't. Maybe you can, but it's not really home. Or maybe, all of our past experiences form the home we're in today.

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...