Saturday, November 28, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

Thanksgiving day has come and gone. We had a wonderful time celebrating with some dear friends. We skipped the madness of Black Friday and now it is the weekend again. With all the stuff that is going on around the world, it's hard to pick one thing to talk about. It seems we are getting more polarized here in the United States and few seem to even want a solution. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail.

Anyway, on to the good stuff:

This is a good story.
Good for him!
Good article on family dinners.
Banning the Lord's Prayer?
Not one of our better exports.

Good post from John Frye.
I am thankful for this church as well.
Laugh! It's good for you.
To the crazy ones.
This is good!

Chad West wants to be distracted.
When it's hard to be thankful.
This is interesting.
They just go together.
I'm glad this is happening.

Preparing for a new church year.
Giving forgiveness.
The ones Jesus loves.
Dead end.
Go marveling.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Pilgrims and Community

The other night, we watched an episode of The American Experience that dealt with the Pilgrims and their settlement at Plymouth. It was interesting and brought out historical facts that will cause one to look at the whole story a bit differently.

According to the program, many of the things we have been taught about the Pilgrims, including some of their writings, are not totally accurate. It is true that we have tended to romanticize them and turn the settlement of New England into legend. It is also true that these settlers, whom we have made almost mythical characters, were actually frail humans with the same foibles and failings as the rest of us. Knowing that makes their story all the more interesting and inspiring.

One of the striking characteristics of the Pilgrims was their desire to live life together in community. They attempted to follow Jesus as the early church did and developed a love for and commitment to one another. The Pilgrims were not perfect in their attempt to be the church. They were suspicious of outsiders who did not see things the same. They were forced to accept non-Separatists as part of their settlement. Like most people of the time, they saw the Native Americans as savages. They succumbed to the temptation to close ranks and focus on themselves, rather than reach out to those around them and be a blessing to them.

Jan and I are part of a faith community that attempts to live our lives together and disciple one another. We too are not perfect and sometimes our attempts at being the church falter. Other times they move forward in fits and starts. It is a messy business and sometimes we hurt and are hurt. Most of us seem determined to stick with it because we believe it is the best way to live this life as followers of Jesus. Learning more about the Pilgrims' community helps me have hope.

In spite of the frailty and failings of the Plymouth settlers, some great things came from them. The Mayflower Compact was an example of people who thought differently coming together to form a community. The persistence of the Pilgrims made the later settling of New England possible. While they may have been fallible humans, their strong faith is inspiring. In spite of the messiness of their community, the Pilgrims were greatly used by God.

I need to remember that God can do great things in and through our community, as well as other communities, in spite of the times we fail and fall on our faces. Don't give up. You never know how God is going to us you.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Give Thanks

How's that for an original Thanksgiving post title?

Psalm 136 begins with the words, "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." (NLT) The psalmist then goes on to describe this LORD to whom we give thanks, using terms such as God of gods and Lord of lords. The writer also describes God's actions in creation, delivering Israel from Egypt and giving them the Promised Land, and providing for his people. Each description is paired with the declaration that his faithful love endures forever.

As I was reading this Psalm, I thought how comforting this Psalm is. The God who created everything, who brought all things out of nothing,  who is powerful enough to miraculously deliver his people and set up and take down rulers; that God is the one whose faithful love endures forever. The God who provides food to every living thing is the one whose faithful love endures forever. The LORD who is above all other gods, his faithful love endures forever. God is faithful. This is the one who can not lie. He is the one who is described as faithful and true. God's love will never fail.

So, if this faithful love comes from a God who is sovereign over all and mighty enough to accomplish his purposes, what does that say to us? To me it says that no matter what happens in my life, my Father's faithful love is there. Think of the absolute worst thing that could happen. Even that can not remove God's faithful love. We live in uncertain times (then again, who has ever lived in certain times?). There is a lot of fear, much of it unfounded. We don't need to fear. The Creator of all things loves us with a faithful love that endures forever. As Paul says, there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from this love.

Give thanks to the LORD for his faithful love that endures forever. It is this love that brings us all the blessings we can think of. Fear not. It is this love that will bring us home.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

It has become a bit chilly here in the sunny South. The low temps are supposed to be down into the upper 20s the next couple of days. The political climate has become more chilly too, with the debate on accepting refugees gets more heated and vitrolic. There is probably a good solution to the issue, but right now it seems to be buried under the rhetoric. I guess we'll see how it plays out.

On to the good stuff:

Evidently,some Americans' feelings toward immigrants are not new.
Turns out pop music is bad for you.
Did you think the song was about you?
Chaplain Mike on pastoral care.
What we really need.

Good post from First Things.
The exhaustion of outrage.
Good post from Keith Giles.
Jeff Clarke on what God is like.
Classic post from Michael Spencer.

Jonathan Storment on gluttony.
If you're going through hell.
The decline of writing.
Turns out there is a war on Christmas after all.
Being like Jesus in a polarized culture.

God of second chances.
Upside down kingdom.
Giving up control.
Bob Edwards on contentment.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Church Signs: Don't Look Back...

A church near us has a sign up that reads, "Don't look back. You're not going that way."

In one sense, I agree with the message. We shouldn't live in the past and should focus on what is ahead of us each day. The Apostle Paul said that he was forgetting what was in his past and looking forward to what God had ahead of him. It is true that many times we long for the "good old days," tending to romanticize the past. We also tend to use our past as an excuse for our actions in the present. Looking back can be detrimental to living in the present.

On the other hand, I believe there are times when looking back can be beneficial, even necessary. It's been said that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. We can learn much from the experience of others. We can also learn much from our own experiences. Much of what we call wisdom is simply learning from what has happened in our past.

Sometimes our problems in the present are caused by our refusal to look at our past. Rather than confronting things which we have done or which others have done to us, we bury them and move on. Except we never really move on. Like a bad horror movie, those things which we think we have buried come back to haunt us. Not forgiving someone who has sinned against us can cause problems with present day relationships. Not dealing with past abuse and putting it behind a wall can cause any number of problems. Sometimes our own past actions can affect our lives if they are not dealt with.

Like Paul, we do need to look ahead to what God has for us. Sometimes we need that to make it through our day-to-day. But there are times when we need to look back. When driving a vehicle, it is necessary to occasionally check the rear view mirror to see if we can safely change lanes or to see if any danger is coming up behind us. Sometimes we need to check the rear view mirror of our life.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

It's the first weekend in November. The leaves are changing and dropping to the ground. Christmas decorations are popping up on houses and in stores. I think it's too early, but no one is asking my opinion. Our little town was in the national news last night. The Democratic presidential candidate forum was held at Winthrop University, here in Rock Hill. I didn't watch the forum, as we were spending the evening with a few friends.

On to the links:

Good post from Karina Kreminski.
The deeper message of Charlie Brown.
This is pretty interesting.
Answering the phone.
A guide to evangelical lingo, Part 1.

Good post from Chaplain Mike.
The irreplaceable Father.
Spellbooking the Bible.
Singing lies in church?
Instagramming the sin of omission.

DIY spirituality.
A guide to colloquialisms.
Identity and reinvention.
Good post from Keith Giles.
Waiting on God.

Zack Hunt on football and prayer.
The challenge of culture.
Missing piece.
The unknown sea.

Have a blessed week!

Moving On

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