Sunday, April 8, 2018

Weekend Wanderings

Spring seems to be making its way in slowly. Here in the sunny South, we are still have temperatures in the thirties some mornings. The northern half of the country is still dealing with snowstorms. I don't know if I'm looking forward to summer weather or not. The college basketball season is over, baseball has begun, and there seems to be some competition for the NFL popping up.

On to the good stuff:

Good article on addiction.
Long article on fake news.
Great story.
Better but miserable?
2018 Sony World Photography Awards.

Is it really local?
A sad case.
Good question.
Good article.
Shower thoughts.

Creepy bunnies.
There are probably lots of outdated laws out there.
Interesting article.
This is not good.
Mr. Rogers and miracles.

Do you have a boring testimony?
Looking in the last place.
Bob Edwards on prayer-bombing.
Nothing left to prove.
Living into the "what."

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Blast From the Past: Palm Sunday

This post was first written on April 3, 2012.

Today is the day Christians commemorate the triumphal entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. Jesus was hailed as the King by the people along the road into the city. While the people did recognize Jesus as the promised King, they did not understand just what his kingdom was all about. They were looking for someone to overthrow the Romans and restore Israel back to its former glory. Even the disciples did not totally understand. By the end of the week, many who were hailing Jesus as King turned against him and saw him as just another in a line of failed would-be messiahs.

Many today also misunderstand Jesus and his kingdom. Some see the kingdom as something in the future. Today we depend on Jesus to save us, and take us to heaven when we die. The kingdom will happen when Jesus comes again. The idea that Jesus is the King, right now, does not enter into our minds.

This incorrect thinking has produced a church that is weak and ineffective. It has produced people who only see the Jesus as a ticket to heaven, as "fire insurance." It ignores or explains away much of the four Gospels. It has caused many to leave the church. I believe that fear is one reason many would rather see the kingdom as something off in the future. Fear that, if we take Jesus' teachings seriously, we will have to give up control. Fear that Jesus may ask us to give up the American Dream. Fear that our comfortable life will be no more.

So, while the first century church proclaimed the subversive message that Jesus was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, bringing down the wrath of the Roman Empire, the church today proclaims a message that is quite compatible with the powers that be. Either that, or a message that you can accept Jesus as "personal" Savior, live a moral life, and go to heaven and escape this world when you die.

The first century church turned the world upside down. The church today, well...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Acts 11

The last few months, I've had the privilege of speaking in some of our Sunday gatherings. I thought I'd post the recordings here. So, if you feel so inclined, take a listen.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Weekend Wanderings

Now that March is here, Spring has taken a bit of a break here in the sunny South. Temperatures have dropped, although we are not facing what folks in the Midwest or Northeast have to deal with. There is a touch of madness in the air, as the college basketball season enters its final month. My Xavier Musketeers have a good chance of going deep in the tournament this year. Which team is your favorite?

On to the good stuff:

Good Lenten post from Chaplain Mike.
Good advice for church leaders.
Good post about beauty, goodness, and truth.
Good question.
Leading a church through difficult times.

Not sure this is a good thing.
Sometimes you just can't avoid the arguments.
Classy move.
Thoughtful post from David Moore.

Going on and on.
Bob Edwards on grace.
Benjamin Corey is fasting from Lent.
Christian Bill of Rights.
Good post from Kurt Willems.

Have a blessed week!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Weekend Wanderings

Last weekend our daughter and grandson came from California for a long weekend visit. We had a wonderful time with her. Another week has come and gone, and life has returned to what passes for normal. Really, what's normal anyway? Spring has sprung here in the sunny South. The big question is whether or not winter will return to give us one more bite.

Here's a bit of some good posts from the blogosphere:

Something else to watch out for.
What to say.
This is a bit disturbing.
Does the spiritual life "work"?

Reasons not to go to church.
New saints for 2018.
For those of you wondering what to study.
Christian Wiman on joy.
The real Margaritaville?

Fascinating look at Camp David.
A burdensome myth.
New love languages.
Messy saints.
Good post from Margaret Pope.

Happiness or joy?
This could change things.
Bob Edwards on forgiveness.
A fool's errand.

Have a blessed week!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Repost: Dead, Yet Alive

This was first posted on June 15, 2012.

Those of you who have read this blog over the past three or four months know that one of the topics I wrote a fair amount on was death. Death to self, dying for others. Those posts came out of some recent experiences, and as I was thinking about them the other day, I was concerned that I may have come across as a bit morose. Over the last couple of months, I have learned a few things. Believe it or not, I am still very much a work in progress and am continually learning.

The biggest thing that I am learning is the difference between what so many of us see as living, and what Scripture tells us about life. Many people (Christians included) see life as all about getting as much stuff as you can. That stuff can be money and possessions, or career satisfaction and success. It can be friends and followers, or family. It can be any number of things. The prosperity gospel preachers tell us that if we just have faith, God will give us a life filled with health and wealth, and devoid of problems. Some preachers preach that if we just love everyone, our lives will be filled with friends. Many evangelicals preach that if we follow a number of steps (based on the Bible of course) we will have great marriages, successful children, and a joyous life. Even those who look on horrified at all those things teach that if we keep all the rules our life will be wonderful.

In John 10:10, Jesus states that he came so we could have an abundant life. There are many places in Scripture where a life of following Jesus is presented as the ultimate way to live. Jesus says in Luke 17:33 that those who lose their lives for his sake will find life. In Luke 18, Jesus states that those who give up family, etc. to follow him will receive those things back, and then some. Jesus does call us to come and die. He also says that dying is the way to real, abundant life. The problem comes when we expect that abundant life to include lots of friends, success in our endeavors, good health, enough money to do anything we want, or anything else we think will make us happy. We are like those described by C.S. Lewis in Weight of Glory“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”  

We tend to see life in terms of what we can see and touch, when the life Jesus offers us rises far above the mundane things of this life. We are far too easily pleased. We set our sights on things that will pass away and miss the eternal pleasures the Father has for us right now. I wonder how many of those who believe God is in the business of giving them whatever they want believe that they will have those things in the new heavens and new earth. I hope none of us really believe that the things of this earth are the things that count. We do act like it many times.

As Christ calls us to die, let us remember that he also calls us to live. Live in him. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Weekend Wanderings

Welcome to another edition of Weekend Wanderings! My time for reading has been reduced a good bit, but I still try to put together a list of some of the best that I am able to see.

It's still winter here in the sunny South. I guess it still is in most parts of the country. Anyone planning to watch the State of the Union speech on Tuesday? Personally, I think I'll skip it.

On to the good stuff:

Funny from McSweeney's
Good article on identity politics.
What is your anchor?

Thoughtful article on higher education.
Good post from Graham Hill.
These folks really love their Nutella!

Thought provoking article from Karl Vaters.

Have a blessed week!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Weekend Wanderings

This is the first weekend of the new year. Most of the country has been locked in the icebox for the past week. The southeastern coast was hit with more snow than some residents had ever seen and the northeastern part of the country was slammed with heavy snow and high winds. It's supposed to warm up this week here in the sunny South.

Here is the good stuff:

Listening and learning.
Epiphany post.
This is good.
Do you know anyone who needs one of these?
Whatever works.
Good post from Karl Vaters.

Raining iguanas.
A new game to play on those snow days.
I might be able to keep these New Year's resolutions.
A good post on something we need to rediscover.
Looks like a good book.

Paul Dunk is ruined.
A plea for grace.
Good question.
What if?
Good post from Kurt Willems.
10 steps.

Have a blessed week!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Goodbye and Hello

2017 has passed into history. There have been a few years in recent memory to which I bid "Good riddance." This past year is not one of those. 2017 was a good year for me and my family. Jan and I became grandparents. Twice. I started a new job, which I love. There were some hiccups. It was not a perfect year, but overall it was peaceful, without the drama of some recent years.

As I look back on the past year, I am thankful for the good things that God has blessed us with. Grandchildren and the new job are right up there at the top of the list, along with a deepening of our relationship as husband and wife. Our relationships with our friends has also grown stronger, and we are grateful for them. This year has been more active than most, but we have been blessed with the energy we needed. I have no idea what 2018 holds. I hope that it is as good as 2017, but I realize that it may not be.

I don't know if your past year was good or bad. I don't know if you are looking forward to this new year or not. I do know how it feels to be glad one year is gone and also dread the coming year. While I can't totally understand what everyone goes through, I can empathize. I can also hope and pray with you that 2018 is a good year for you.

Let me encourage you to trust God this coming year. There may be times when you can't even begin to figure out what he is doing, or if he is even working at all. Those times when you can't see his hand at work, trust his heart. Trust that the Father's love for you is so strong that he will never let anything come into your life that he does not use for your good. The last part of Romans 8 is true. There is absolutely nothing on earth or in heaven that can separate you from Abba's love.

Don't live this year worrying about the state of your finances, your health, your relationships. Don't be worried about the future of the country's politics, or world affairs. The Creator of all things, who is your Father, is in complete control. Since even the fall of a tiny bird doesn't escape God's attention, trust that he has your situation firmly in hand. As Julian of Norwich said, "...all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

May your 2018 be full of the love of Abba! 

Acts 14

From my opportunity to teach in our gathering this morning: