Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

Well, both presidential primaries have come and gone in South Carolina. If the results are any indication, a lot of folks will have some difficult choices to make in November.

Here is the good stuff:

Funny post.
Philip Yancey on T.S. Eliot.
Two important days.
Starving fear.
Steve Brown on love and convictions.

Good article from Max Lucado.
Sad story.
A word can make a difference.
Jovan Barrington on being fed.
Good post from Mike Erich.

Chaplain Mike on cruel teachings.
Good post from Andy Gill.
This guy is ridiculously good!
Thank you, NASA.
Snow murals.

Off mission.
Keith Giles on shame.
Bob Edwards on planning.
Convicting post from Dan Edelen.
Another convicting post, this time from Zack Hunt.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Lessons From Bus School

No, I didn't mean to say school bus. It seems that God puts me on a bus for a while whenever I need to learn new lessons, hence "bus school."

There are a number of things the Father knew I still had to learn. One is patience (Dang! I thought I had that down!). I am getting extensive experience with older folks who don't move very quickly and who can be somewhat cranky from time to time. Because there are senior citizens on the bus, as well as folks in wheelchairs, I can not travel at normal speeds around corners or on some of the bumpy roads around here. I am learning that it does no good to be in a hurry. I am also learning to be patient with my self. Believe it or not, I don't do everything, even driving, perfectly. I've made mistakes, and lo and behold the world didn't end, the sun still came up the next day, and I didn't get fired.

One lesson that was reinforced the other day is the importance of relationships over and above just about anything else. I pulled up to a house to let one of the seniors off and there was a man in the driveway who knew another one of the passengers. She hasn't seen him in a while, so he came to the door and began to talk to her. I was supposed to be pulling out and moving on to another drop-off. After all, I had a schedule to keep. The Spirit spoke to my heart and told me to just let them talk, that their relationship was far more important than keeping to a schedule. Don't be mistaken. I am as concerned with doing things efficiently as anyone. Maybe more, considering my struggles with perfectionism. But, there are times when being a friend is more vital than any task, probably more than some of us realize. When it's all said and done, what will matter is not how perfectly we did things, but how we treated others, what kind of friend we were. As Jesus said, the greatest commandments are to love God and love others.

The wheels on the bus continue to go round and round. It remains to be seen how much I still have to learn.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Without Defect

In Leviticus 21, the Israelites are given the instructions that any of the descendants of Aaron who had any defect at all, even something as minor as a broken bone, could not offer any gifts or sacrifices to God. I don't know about you, but if that passage was all I had to go by, I'd feel pretty hopeless. Seeing as how I've had a few broken bones, including a little toe that is still crooked, I wouldn't come close to being able to come into God's presence.

When you think about it, none of us are qualified to give anything to God. We are all born with a serious defect that we can't get rid of. That defect, sin, is far worse than a broken bone. A broken leg can possibly heal on its own, but we can do nothing to heal our sin. So, we are up the proverbial creek without a paddle or even a canoe.

There is also the problem of not making the grade as far as how others see us. We spend our entire lives trying to measure up, to parents, friends, spouses, employers, or any number of people in our lives. Many times we fail. We are seen as defective, unworthy. But we keep trying because we want to be be accepted, we want to be loved. That is true whether we are talking about people or about God.

Fortunately, there is someone who has no defect, who is absolutely sinless and perfect. Because Jesus took our sin on him and has taken it away, his acceptability is now ours. We can now approach the Creator of the universe with boldness, knowing that he sees us as he sees Jesus, as spotless. That also means that we are not bound by attempting to appear as if we have it all together. Ultimately it doesn't matter what others think of us because God himself calls us his beloved children. If we are without defect in the eyes of God, wouldn't it be a a good idea to live in that knowledge and stop trying to prove ourselves worthy. We have nothing to prove, nothing to do to make ourselves worthy.

That has already been done. Believe it. Live it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

It's Valentines Day weekend here in the sunny South. I guess it is in the rest of the country as well. Do people celebrate Valentines Day in other countries, or is that strictly an American thing. In a few days South Carolina Republicans get to decide which candidates they send home. Does anyone have the sense that there might be a convention fight over the nominee, or is it just me. The convention just might be interesting this year.

On to the links:

Good article on romance.
Good post from John Frye.
Good story from Mike Erich.
Thought provoking post from Keith Giles.
Listening to people in pain. (HT: Bob Edwards)

Nine facts about the Sistine Chapel.
Five facts about Mardi Gras.
Kingdom come.
Chad West on controllers.
Interesting post by Benjamin Corey.

New post from Reverend Beard.
Steve Brown says we have a reason to celebrate.
Love, for cynics.
Chaplain Mike on Lent and love.
The lost art of abiding.

For me, grace. For you, ...
Andrew Petiprin on beauty.
Interesting article on Henry VIII.
Lucy Peppiatt on headship.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Church Signs: "The Bible is Chock Full of...

...New Year's Resolutions. "

I'm not against making resolutions at the beginning of a new year (although I don't make them), and I'm definitely not against the Bible. I do have a problem with trying to mix the two. It is true that there are commands in the Bible and we are told that there are certain things that characterize followers of Jesus.

Trying to improve in certain areas of our lives is a good thing. As an athlete, I was always trying to improve my skills. As a coach, I never let my players rest on past accomplishments. In many careers, if you're not improving, you're going backwards. It's good to try to be a better husband, father, etc. There is nothing wrong with trying to be a better human being.

Where I differ from what seems like most of American Christianity, is seeing the story of the Bible as a story, not of what we can or need to do, but of what God has done. A great deal of evangelical preaching is on how to be a better (fill in the blank). Fundamentalist preaching is about what we need to do to stay "right with God." I beg to differ with both.

That kind of preaching can be inspirational, but it is not the gospel. The gospel is not about what we can do. It is about what Christ has done. Ultimately, there is nothing we can do to improve our standing with God, nothing we can do to make him love us. All we can do is put our total trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. There is no amount of resolutions that can ultimately make us what we already are in Christ.

Again, let me emphasize that I am not against making resolutions, having goals, or trying to improve in areas of our lives. I can think of more than a few areas where I can use some improvement. I just don't see the "gospel" of self improvement in Scripture. Your mileage may differ. Feel free to disagree.

Weekend Wanderings

Weekend Wanderings will be a bit shorter than usual this time. This has been a busy week. I am part of an organization of artists that seeks...