Monday, November 28, 2011

Awesome! Yet...

Today, one of the classes where I work watched a video on the universe. The video began by speaking of the size of the Milky Way Galaxy, and the fact that if we could fly to the sun on a commercial airliner, it would take seventeen years. That is awesome. Yet, the closest star to earth after the sun (Proxima Centauri) is 25 trillion miles from earth! A spacecraft with the speed of the Voyager would take 81,000 years to get there. Awesome!

Yet, that is just a small part of the universe. The universe is defined as all the matter and energy that exists, along with all the space in-between. The size of the observable universe is 93 billion light years. And that's just what we can observe! Scientists say there is more of the universe beyond that, although no one knows how far it goes. Awesome!

Yet, there is a God who created all this! A God who is beyond space and time, who is "bigger" than the universe! A God who is the sovereign ruler over everything we can observe and everything we can't. A God who is outside and yet in this universe. Awesome!

Yet, even more awesome and mind blowing is the thought that this God who created this magnificent universe and stands above it, is the same God who calls me his child, and allows me to call him Father. This God loves me with an unfathomable love that reaches beyond this world. God became one of us, so that we can become like him. He has given me the privilege of following him, and living in his love and grace. He has called me to share that love with others and let them know that they can also follow him. One day this God will set everything in the universe to rights, and will finally restore his creation. That is awesome!

Yet. No, there is no yet. There is nothing more awesome than that.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Prayer for the First Week of Advent

Almighty Father, as the people of Israel longed for their redemption, so we long for the final redemption and restoration of all things. As they longed for your kingdom, so do we. Help us to not miss you, as many of them did. This season, remind us that our deepest longings find their fulfillment only in Jesus. Amen

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Being Thankful

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, so in honor of the season I would like to list a few of the many things I am thankful for.

I am thankful, first of all, that I have a Father in heaven who calls me his child and who loves me with an inexhaustible love. I am thankful for what Jesus Christ has done for me, and for the great privilege of being called to follow him. I am thankful for the wisdom and guidance that the Spirit gives me in my day-to-day. I am thankful for the legacy of godly parents who taught me through their example how to follow Jesus. I am thankful for a sister who loves Jesus and loves me, and for her family.

I am thankful for an absolutely wonderful woman who I am blessed to call my wife. Her love and support means more to me than I can say. I am thankful for her family, and the way they have accepted me as one of their own. I am thankful for two fantastic children who are a joy and a blessing to me, and who have become fine young adults. I am thankful for friends who love me, who have taught me much, and who are not afraid to call BS when the situation warrants it.

I am thankful for a job that is more than just a job, but is also an opportunity to show God's love to others. I am thankful that I get to coach, and use athletics to influence young people. I am thankful for good health. I am thankful for the Father's provision down through the years, even though I didn't always have a lot of faith at the time. I am thankful for the things God has been teaching me these past few years, even the lessons that were hard to learn.

I could go on and on. There is so much to be grateful for. Abba has showered me with his blessings. So, this Thanksgiving I will soak in the riches of God's glorious grace and love.

I'll be taking a few days of the rest of the week. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Good News From the Church Front

I know I tend to be a bit critical of the American church and what I see as a turning away from what Jesus intended. It's not all bad, though. I would be the first to admit that God can use anyone, even churches that I could never be a part of. Here is a good example of followers of Jesus in churches, one traditional and one more contemporary, doing what our Savior commanded us to do.

I praise God for his people who are willing to show love to others, no matter what we may disagree on.

Better Sundays?

The other day, I saw a church sign sign that read, "Come see us. Our Sundays are better than Dairy Queen." I thought, "Well maybe, but can you get the same thing the other six days of the week?" Dairy Queen is open seven days a week, so you can go at almost any time and get something good. I know a little about this particular congregation, while there may be other times throughout the week when the folks get together, the emphasis is on the Sunday morning event.

This is true in most churches today. The week is spent preparing for what goes on during the Sunday morning service. Sermon prep takes up a great deal of the pastor's time, and the worship leaders focus on what they will be doing and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Other parts of the service are planned so that the audience will have a good (insert church name) experience. So, if all you are looking for is a good Sunday, then you probably can find one in any number of church services.

However, if you are looking for community, for a group of fellow followers of Christ who will walk with you on your journey, who will love and accept you and treat you as family, you are probably looking for more than a once a week experience. Even if the early church could have gone to Dairy Queen, I doubt they would have advertised themselves as having "better Sundays." They lived life together. While they probably did not all come together at the same time every day, groups of believers did meet in each others homes from day to day. They shared meals together, they encouraged and edified one another. When there was need, they sacrificed to meet that need.

What the early church did, they did because they were devoted to Jesus first, then to each other. Because of that devotion, they wanted to spend time with each other, to know each other, and to bless each other. That couldn't have happened if they had only gathered as a large group on Sundays. Just as knowing God involves spending time with him, so knowing his children involves a commitment of time and effort. I don't believe that can happen if we only gather one day a week. Of course, I don't believe most Sunday services help believers serve one another, but that's a topic for another day.

One day a week is just not enough.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekend Wanderings

The posts have been somewhat sparse the past couple of weeks. I feel that God is teaching me, but right now it's hard to crystallize those things into coherent blog posts. I have been reading though. so you at least you have something to read.

Here are some of the best from this week:

This is must reading.
I don't know. This just seems so wrong.
Ronnie McBrayer has a question.

Have a good week. If you are traveling, be safe. Enjoy time with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekend Wanderings

The weather here in the sunny South is jumping between fall and spring. We have lows in the 30s, and highs ranging anywhere from the 50s to the 70s. Most of the leaves are off the trees or have turned brown. The colors were beautiful while they lasted. The sports world was rocked with the scandal at Penn State and the firing of Joe Paterno. While I agree that Paterno should have done more and that the university had no choice, I think it is a shame for an illustrious career to end this way.

On to better things:

Bob Hyatt has a Biblical answer.
Alan Knox on sacramentalism.

This is pretty amazing.
Jon Acuff has some wise words.

I hope your week ahead is full of God's grace and love.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekend Wanderings

It's been a good week. Basketball practice began on Monday, and we have had five good sessions. This years team is a little less experienced than the squad from last year, so the learning curve is going to be a bit steeper. The trees are in full blaze here in the sunny South, and it is beautiful. Of course that means that something will have to be done with those leaves after they fall. I could just let them blow into the neighbors' yards, but they might not appreciate it.

On to the links:

For the men.
For the women (the rest of us too).

J. Scott McElroy on the arts.
Ronnie McBrayer is longing for home.
Wayward Son on God as sugar daddy.
Jason Elam with some truth about grace.
Jon Acuff has a quiet, loud video.

It's the time of year where we get an extra hour of sleep. Or, you can stay up an hour longer. Don't forget to set your clocks back one hour. Have a great week!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Doing Great Things For God

When I was growing up, I heard a lot about doing great things for God. In Bible college we were regaled with stories of those alumni who had gone on to be senior pastors in large churches, or youth pastors with large followings, or presidents of Bible colleges. These individuals were held up as the standard. As a teacher and coach in Christian schools, I told my students to dream of doing great things. I dreamed of winning state championships, of having former students and players go on to be leaders. I even dreamed of becoming a college coach and having a huge impact for Christ with my players, all while winning a lot of games.

Fast forward a few years. I now work as a paraprofessional in a middle school and an assistant basketball coach at a local high school. Over the years I have sent out a whole lot of resumes, added to my educational credentials, and done everything else I could to do something great. Nothing panned out. There have been many times when I felt as if I had missed my chance to do great things, to make an impact for God's Kingdom. I would look at others who did what was considered great, and wonder why it wasn't me. I felt let down, by God and by myself. I tried to soothe things by being "humble." You know, the whole "I'm just one of those folks that just tries to serve God any way I can" schtick. I would venture to say that there are a whole lot of Christians who have felt the same way.

Over the past couple of years, through Scripture and the encouragement of my family and close friends, I have come to change my definition of greatness. John Wooden used to tell his teams at UCLA that true greatness consisted of doing the best you can all the time (I know that's a rough paraphrase, but you get the idea). I believe that is also true in our walk with God. The Father does not expect us to "do great things," especially as the world defines greatness. He simply asks us to be faithful to the task he has given us. The funny thing is, that actually is doing great things. As followers of the King, and citizens of his Kingdom, we are involved in what C.S. Lewis called an invasion. We are representatives of a King who is in exile, and we are called to bring his Kingdom to bear in a world that is controlled by our enemy. That makes everything we do as followers of Christ significant. We are part of a great story, the story of the restoration of Creation. Jesus said that even giving a cup of cold water in his name was a great thing. Wow. That really changes a lot of things.

Don't let anyone sell you short. Don't buy the lie that you are insignificant, and the things you do don't matter. You are a child of the Creator of the universe, and God's Spirit lives in you. Your heart has been, and is being transformed. The Father has given you gifts and talents that he wants you to use to bless others. Even if the "only" thing you can do is love others as Jesus has loved you (and that's really pretty doggone huge when you think about it), you are playing a role in the greatest story ever. You are doing great things.

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...