Thursday, December 22, 2005

What God Wants for Christmas

What God Wants for Christmas
& All Year Round

Kerry S. Doyal -

Talk about trying to buy for Someone who truly does have everything! It is hard enough to shop for parents – if they need it, they buy it. How do you pick out something for the One who owns it all already?

Yet, God has a "Wish List," things He wants that are not yet His. Want to know what and who is on it? Want to help fulfill it?

Actually, there are lots of things on His list: His desire that we be holy, as He is holy, that we pray, love Him, love others, serve as He did… and the list goes on (see Gal. 5:18-22).

Also on His list are people: for His people to be fully committed to Him (Rom. 12:1-2), and those who are not His people to be offered to Him, by us, His priests (Rom. 15:15-16).

Priests were to present clean, acceptable offerings (gifts) to God. They represented the people to God and God to the people. We, as God’s holy nation of Priests (1 Pet. 2:4-10), are called on to present ourselves and other people to God as a gift, seeing them come to faith and maturity (Col. 1:27-29).

Find the gift "suggestions" in these two portions of Paul’s letter to the Romans: "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Rom. 12:1 - NASV).

"…Ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable… For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed…" (Rom. 15:16, 18).

First and foremost, if you are one of His, He wants all of you. Not select parts, not certain days and ways – but unreservedly, unabashedly all of you. He finds such gifts quite acceptable, in fact, pleasing. All of you to Him is the perfect gift.

Partial gifts in this arena are not nice gestures, or good starts - they are insults to the Almighty. You are –as Paul reminded the hold-out Corinthians – not your own any more. You have been bought with a price – Jesus’ blood (1 Corin. 6:18-20). We have no right to hold back on God.

Gentiles (non-Jews) were defiled outcasts, unacceptable offerings. Thankfully, God has a heart not just for His chosen people, but for outsiders as well. They – we– of all people, are on His list (Rom. 1:16, 17). Do we have a heart for the left out, over-looked, and life-losers? Do they matter to us like they matter to God?

Here are some shopping tips for presenting people to God as a priestly offering:

First, seeking to bring people to God as a gift requires a measure of pluck & passion – courage and care. Evangelism can be scary, but love conquers fear. Paul was so passionate about gifting the lost to God that he was willing to swap his own salvation for that of others – his fellow kinsmen, Jews (Rom. 9:1-5; 10:1). Oh for such concern about such eternal matters.

To have any hope of giving people to God, also requires persistent pursuit. Lost people are sometimes deep in the woods, hard to find, if I may. We need not just a desire, but a drive, one that is in gear (Rom. 1:8-17; 15:7-24). Mere wanting and whimpering does little to get ‘er done (sorry).

As missionaries reach Europeans by going to Europe, so too we reach our community by getting off our duffs. It is not the responsibility of the spiritually needy to come to us, or even come to church. "As you are going," Jesus said, "make disciples" (Matt. 28:18-20).

Pleading prayer is another part of an effective Priest’s life (Rom. 10:1-4). Funny thing, we can ask God to help us in getting Him a gift. Far from keeping this a surprise, we are to enlist His help in the process of bringing people to Jesus.

Finally, persuasive proclamation of Jesus is part of the process too (Col. 1:27-29; Rom. 10:13-5). If they do not hear about Him, they cannot believe or call out to Him. How will they hear without some one to proclaim Him? Live the gospel well, and tell it too.

Remember: "God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27).

Since God wants people for Christmas, and all year long, let’s make the same pledge Paul did: "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me" (Col. 1:28-29).

For such grand and awesome gifts for God – that of ourselves and of others who need Him - we have God’s blessing to shop until we drop.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Mercy or Justice? Your Druthers

Mercy or Justice? Your Druthers
- a true story -

She leaned forward against the rail, tightly clutching her purse, clearly tense, and embarrassed. Almost pale with fear and intense with earnestness, she responded to the Judge who had called her name, brought up her case.

This tired looking woman – wife and mother – was facing the Judge on drug charges. Possibly it was a pain medication that got out of hand. Maybe a party-lifestyle caught up with her. For whatever reasons, she was buying, using and being spent up by drugs.

What had been private was now all too public. Whoever happened to be in the courtroom that day – like me for instance - could hear of her woes, see her tighten in shame.

How many other places would she have rather been that day? How many "highs" would she have foregone to avoid this uncovering of her low condition? How many concealed, dark escapades would she have exchanged to prevent this in the light-of-day exposure?

The Judge was straightforward but respectful. She respectfully answered him. She did not deny her offense. She did not make excuses. She publicly confessed crime, admitted her problem.

Remarkably, several others whom the Judge summoned that session stayed seated as they seemingly chatted with the Judge. Some even saying, half mumbling, "yeah" in a culture and a setting that expects and deserves "Sir" at a minimum.

Unlike those, she stood, looked at him, spoke respectfully - reverently if you will - and owned up to her crime. Instead of concealing her sin, her problem, her law offense, she came clean.

As a result of her demeanor and decorum, she received mercy. The Judge became her Advocate. Speaking to the Prosecutor he said, "Here is a lady that has abused drugs and now they are abusing her". The one who could sentence her now himself sought mercy for her.

"Ma’am, are you in treatment now?" he asked. "No", she replied without any hesitation born of calculation. "Will you seek treatment?" he asked.

"Yes", she replied, even offering to help them catch those who sold her the drugs.

"Is your husband supportive of you in this?" the judge inquired, further displaying concern for her beyond mere satisfaction of the law. "Yes", she said, honoring a man who stood by his woman.

Turning now to her Counsel – court appointed, state funded – the Judge said "help me here. What can we do for this woman?" The next moments were spent discovering and discussing treatment options for her. Where could she go? Who would be able to take her right away?

Making his intentions and heart abundantly clear, the Judge addressed all those involved in making decisions about her future with these unforgettable words: "I don’t want jail for this lady, I want treatment."

Obviously relieved and even some what revived from having felt mercy’s sweet touch, a different woman walked out of that courtroom. It is quite likely that she was unaware that they, in that Kingsport courtroom, had just incarnated Proverbs 28:13-14.

"He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD,
but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." (NIV)

Mercy is a reprieve from deserved justice. It is available and freely offered to all who will ‘fess up and come clean with God through Christ.

If you need some courage and encouragement to come out of hiding, drink in some or all of these passages about God, His mercy and you: Romans 5:1-11; 8:1- 2; Psalms 5:1-7; 32; 51; 57:1-5; 2 Samuel 24:14; Isaiah 55:5-9; Hebrews 4:12-16; James 5:7-11; 1 Peter 1:3-7; 2 Peter 2:9-12.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Expecting and Accepting "X-mas" from the World

John 1:10-14 "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (NIV)

"Christmas has become too commercialized." "They’ve taken Christ out of Christmas." "It is little more than a secular event." "A Holy Day is now just another holiday."

Along with complaints about traffic and long lines at the stores, these are some of the laments we hear this time of year. Such "godly gripings" have become as traditional as exchanging gifts, caroling, watching "It’s a Wonderful Life" and downing eggnog.

Seeing Jesus excluded from His own birthday celebration naturally stirs the hearts of those who love Him. But I wonder if we have a biblical expectation of the world in this matter.

Starkly stated: of course the world has secularized Christmas. But what did we really expect? How "Buddah-filled" would a Christian’s life be if they lived in Japan?
Followers of Jesus need to quit expecting the world to be Christian-like in their beliefs or behavior. Bunnies at Easter and reindeer at Christmas are far more sensible and consistent from the unbelieving world than a genuine honoring of the risen Savior, whom they do not know, nor claim to know. Jesus is not their conquering Messiah so why should they hypocritically act as if He is?

Christians need to collectively mark and mourn the passing of our Christian heritage and seek to win a secular world (which is redundant) to Christ. We no longer live in a Christian nation (if we ever truly did). Let’s accept that and move on to reaching out to them with His love and message of salvation.

God has not left Himself without a witness (see Acts 14:17; Psalm 19), even if that is a secularized, seemingly Christ-free Christmas. The impact of the birth of the historical Son of God is seen even in the leaving of Him out. Our holiday madness begs the question: from whence does this gift giving, tree trimming, carol singing come? Pagan winter solstice celebrations hardly suffice as an answer. Jesus is indeed the reason for the season – historically even if not devotionally.

This is like replacing BC and AD (Before Christ and Anno Domini) with BCE and CE (Before Common Era). It stills begs the question: what marked the beginning of the "Common Era?" One may excise and "commonize" AD (the year of our Lord) but, as in life and history, Jesus’ imprint is still felt. No matter how you label it, Jesus split and defined history.

You find little in the gospels of Jesus’ disappointment with the world not recognizing Him. He knew what to expect. Blind people cannot see. They need sight. It was when His people did not have a clue about Him that He was stirred and grieved (see Matt. 23:37).

The world does not merely need to be Christianized or made more moral – though it does well and wise to be moral. And we are wise and good citizens to work and pray towards that end.

Nor is their greatest need to better teach or appreciate how Christian our nation’s heritage was – though history done with integrity can hardly overlook this and be honest. Civil religion leaves us civil and religious. While being civil is obviously good, being religious, well… the verdict is still out. Did not Jesus say: "what would it profit a man if he gained the whole world yet lost his soul"?

Our world’s greatest need is to encounter and bow before Christ Himself. Hopefully, they are enabled to do this as He is seen and heard in us year round. For non-Christians to commercialize Christmas is on-target, in character behavior for them. Why would they – though they should – make Jesus central on Dec. 25? He is not the other 364 days. They are being consistent. Why do we not honor their lack of pretense instead of blasting their honest omissions? Do we want them to feign fellowship with Him, furthering both their and our confusion over their identity and

Instead of being grumbling, mumbling curmudgeons (Grinches?) who wonder why Christ-less people took Christ out of Christmas, let us seek to be caring, compassionate neighbors who realize they never had Christ to take Him out in the first place.

Anyone can use "X-mas" as a chance for cheap shots. Jesus might be most honored by His followers making the most of this seasonal opportunity to share and show His love to others - a love that might be deepened by confessing and repenting of unbiblical expectations of the unsaved.

Instead of griping and fuming about Christ’s absence from Christmas this year, let’s fully insert Him in our daily lives as well as our annual natal hoopla. Away with demeaning a secular world - is there any other kind? – for trying their best to honor the "spirit of Christmas."

Let us commend their efforts to show love, share and serve others – even if it is merely seasonal sentimental piety (if it is only that). Let us understand their "tip of the hat" deference to the God-man for what it is and what it cannot be. It falls to us to display and declare year-round worship of the Babe of Bethlehem, the Creator made creature.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

How to Act Like an Atheist and Idolater

When Good Christians Act Like Atheists and Idolaters

Want to act and look like an unbeliever? Care to have core traits that make you indistinguishable from atheists or agnostics?

Good news! It doesn’t take becoming a serial killer, a suicide terrorist or a child abuser. According to Romans 1:21-23 all it takes is… well, read it for yourself:

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

"Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles" (NIV).

It is one small step for man yet one giant leap for mankind from not honoring and thanking God to becoming foolish and functional idolaters. To know about God and not give Him due credit (glory) or properly thank Him is to be no different than your run of the mill atheist or blatant idolater. Ouch!

Arguably, the fearful pagan sacrificing chickens to appease an unknown Creator is closer to true worship of God than we educated, technology driven, pure materialists who live without properly praising or thanking Him.

To ascribe credit for one person’s work to another is to be guilty of lying. In this case, it is bearing false witness about our Ultimate Neighbor. It is to misrepresent the one (or impersonal forces) who did not do the work – giving them undue credit.

To not laud the Lord is to strip away His deserved praise and thanks - the One who did the work. Me taking credit for the Mona Lisa or the Magna Carta is beyond funny. It is insulting to all involved.

One of the dangers of pure atheistic evolution (life came from time, chance and non-living matter) is to ascribe some of God’s best work to nothing but cosmic luck.

To assert that our beautiful mountains, that awesome sky and those humbling oceans "just happened" is to mute their testimony of their Creator.

In rejecting the work of the Creator, we become deaf to the heavens when they declare the glory of God (see Psalms 19 & 8). Nature’s songs of praise cannot be heard because there is no One to whom it would sing.

Even if it were left up to the rocks to cry out, we could not hear them if they did. Beyond sad and tragic, that is blasphemous – if not by design then by default.

It is not the loss of Adam of Eve to evolution that is most tragic – though the biblical / theological magnitude of that cannot be overstated.

It is that God is banished from the garden of our weedy hearts, leaving us less than fig-leaf clad. And we are left to turn the created into the Creator.

Seeing God for Who He is - His awesome character - is the basis of praise. We give or "ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name" (Ps. 29:2). To understate His greatness in any realm naturally limits and minimizes the rightful praise we offer Him.

Thanksgiving focuses on what God has given or provided us. It is flows from our acknowledging that every good and perfect gift has indeed come down from our heavenly Father (James 1:17). We thank Him for gifts He bestows because of Who He is, for what He has done for us, or mercifully, not done or allowed to happen to us.

Is gratitude a struggle for you? Could some of it be dealt with by remembering Who is Whom and whom is not? Do you need in any way to re-enthrone the Creator, knowing our rightfully jealous God will not share His glory with any one? Careful meditation on passages like John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16, 17 might help refocus your heart.

A focus on God – rather than mere gratitude or guilt for all our stuff, health and "blessings" – will best restore us to being people who are truly thankful in ways that give Him more glory. It is then we will do as the psalmists says:

"Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice." (Psalm 105:1-3 - NIV)

"Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength." (Psalm 29:1)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Worth, Work & Rejoicing NOT that . . .

What are You Worth? How Do you Know?
Kerry S. Doyal –

It’s Saturday and I am in college. My big plans for most Saturday nights were to sit in the dorm lobby and wait for a phone call. I would set up vigil near the big wooden phone booth, guard it from any one fool hearty enough to try to use it and wait.

In the early 80’s, this was the cheapest way to keep in touch with my parents and Robin, now my wife. Dad worked for the phone company and got a deal on long distance. Robin would drive over to their house for the call and we all would catch up on the week’s news.

Yes, I know that sounds pathetic. Regular old Good Time Charlie, eh? In our era of cheap long distance and cell phones, it is hard to fathom. Oh well, I guess those were my good old days.

Another memory I have of those calls was a pattern of “Q & A” between my Dad and I. “How you doing?” he would ask. “Good.” I would reply. “I had a good week, I got a lot done.”

Some seven years later, while struggling through a long, dark season of life & ministry, I reflected on that part of our Saturday ritual. “How you doing?” “Good. I got a lot done.”

Mulling over that exchange, bells and lights of self-revelation went off. No doubt about it, as a good American male, my worth was clearly tied to my productivity, my successes, my accomplishments.

When I was getting things done, seeing lives changed, furthering His work, I felt good about me. Worse still, it was in such times I felt God felt good about me. Being lovable at such times, I was loved.

However, successes were few and failures seemed many during those doubt-filled days of ministry misery. It was a time that caused me to question my self worth and value to God or the kingdom.

What if while in college, I wondered, God entrusted me to a time of sickness and non-productivity? With test grades slipping, books not being read, papers not being written, I would have probably suffered more with matters of my soul than of my body.

Almost a decade later, everything I touched seemed to turn to mold; hardly gold. With little to feel good about, why should I feel good about me? Why should God?

When I grasped what my answers to my Dad revealed about me, it saddened me. Yet, it also became a point of freedom.

During those days of doubt, I happened – yeah right – to read Luke 10. A group of 72 Disciples were returning from a powerful ministry venture. They were jazzed and ready to report to Jesus. God had used them in obvious ways.

Hearing of their exciting exploits - healing the sick, raising the dead and kicking demonic derriere - Jesus affirmed their ministry. And then, in His classic “seem to change the subject style,” Jesus took advantage of the moment to teach them, to lead them deeper.

Read slowly a few times these words of Jesus that redirected my life: “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20 - NIV).

If I may paraphrase: Do not find your joy and source of identity in what you have done for Me. That fluctuates. Rejoice in what I have done for you – provided salvation. That is settled, secure and cannot change.

For me, this was a “lights going on, chains dropping off” moment of truth-grasping (John 8:30-32). This story in Luke intercepted my story and reset the shape of my life and ministry. It seemed after this epiphany, God seemed to line up particular guys He brought into my life - they all needed to hear this truth too (Eph. 2:8-10).

If our worth is based on what we do for Him, we better never have a performance lapse. Talk about pressure and an unreasonable – no, impossible – expectation. It is a demonic and damnable lie.

Our performance, successes and results will always be in flux and mixed. ‘Tis true: ya win some, ya lose some. Yet, for those of us who need to win all of them to be okay with us, this means trouble. For me, that means I am only as good as my next sermon, which puts me in deep trouble.

Yet, God’s love for you and me, His unconditional acceptance never wavers. It is not rooted in me, but Him (Titus 3:3-7).

Be honest: when do you feel good about you? More importantly, when do you sense the favor and smile of God on your life? Is it when there is good reason to sense His love?

Do good grades, a raise or promotion, perfect kids or health indicate – or dictate – how you think God is thinking and feeling about you? Or, is your worth based in HIM: His love, grace, acceptance, mercy and forgiveness? These are gifts, not earned or merited (digest Rom. 5:1-10; Ephesians 1-3).

His favor is based on His desire to express His glorious grace to even the likes of us. In fact, the “least worthy” of His love become His best exhibits of Love (see 1 Timothy 1:15-17).

The next time you have a success, enjoy it. Call a friend and have them party hearty with you (Romans 12:15; Psalm 20:5).

Better still, the next time you fail, stumble and mess things up royally, stop right in the middle of your mess to wallow and revel in His ongoing, never decreased love for you (Romans 8:26-39). If in those times you can know and experience the love of God, methinks you are on to something special.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How to Make Your Pastor Happy

An Inside Scoop from 3 John
Kerry S. Doyal –

Okay, I am going to indulge myself. With October being “Pastor Appreciation Month,” I am going to share some ways you can make your pastor happy. To make this as legit as possible, I will use 3 John as my guide.

Lest you think this is a sneaky way to drop hints to the church I am blessed to pastor, let me tell you what they did. These dear souls sent my wife & me away for a restful get away, and took care of our kids while we were gone. Better still, they are generous and kind to us all year, not just in October.

The Beloved Disciple, the Apostle John, one of Jesus’ closest Three, takes on a different role in 3 John. Writing as an Elder (Pastor), he tells his dear friend Gaius several things that bring him great joy and sadness as a spiritual leader. Any spiritual leader in your life would be thrilled if these things were true of you.

First, continue in the truth. John wrote Gaius: It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (vs. 3, 4 - NIV).

Talk about a happy pastor! John shared his desire that Gaius would have physical and financial well being (vs. 2), but his joy came from matters of the Spirit. The report that John seemed to seek and savor most was that Gaius was staying true to the faith (orthodoxy) and putting shoe leather to it (orthopraxy).

God-honoring beliefs and behavior are two wings of an airplane. Pick which one is optional? Too many act like holding the right doctrines is enough. Forget that they live like moral pigs or never show love for others. They “got saved, baptized and joined the church,” what more do you want? See Matthew 7:20-27; James 1:21-2; 2:14-26; 1 John 3:16-20.

John was also joyful that Gaius showed consistent love in his practical acts of kindness towards others (hospitality). “You are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love” (vs. 5, 6).

Traveling teachers needed safe lodging to assist in their ministry. Believers were to open their homes and hearts to them, even if their home was not spotless, fancy or in perfect order. Southern Hospitality is over rated when it is hampered by insecurities that lead to closed doors.

Gaius also made John’s day by doing what he could to help spread the gospel. “We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth” (vs. 8). Gaius many not have been a gifted evangelist or teacher, but by sharing his home, he shared in the work of the Gospel. He became a team member.

No one does gospel work alone. Behind every Billy Graham, or pastor are dozens – no – hundreds of silent, faithful workers. By giving, praying, serving each are indispensable co-laborers for the truth. When we give of our time, skills, homes, lives, we are sharing in the work of the gospel.

Here is a backwards way to make your pastor smile: by NOT following the example of your local Diotrepehes. Bluntly stated, do not be an arrogant and rude Church Boss.

“Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us… gossiping maliciously about us… he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church” (vs. 9, 10). Talk about Chutzpah!

Families that run churches ruin churches. Strong leaders who dominate eventually desecrate God’s holy work. If everything has to meet your approval, I wonder if you meet God’s? How many good men are no longer in the ministry because of a distrusting, power hungry control freak?

Conversely, people who are pleasant coworkers with their pastors imitate good and godly examples. “Do not imitate what is evil but what is good” (vs. 11). Since monkeys see and monkeys do, make sure you pick good monkeys to see. People like Demetruis.

“Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone — and even by the truth itself” (vs. 12). He had a great reputation – one that was deserved. Even Truth found lips and words to speak well of this man. Gaius was shown a stark contrast of models. Picking the right one pleased his Pastor.

In closing this shortest letter (postcard) in the New Testament, John writes: “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face (vs.14). Is the thought of a reunion with you by a previous pastor a pleasurable point for him to ponder? Or is it something to avoid if he wants a good night’s sleep?

Do you need to thank a spiritual parent in your life: a Pastor (current or previous), a Sunday School teacher, a parent, a Camp or Youth leader? Go for it! Let them reap some of what they have sown.

Pastors - Spiritual Parents of all stripes - do you need to express joy in a spiritual child? How encouraging these words from John must have been to Gaius. Let’s remember to share with others the joy they bring us.

October, the “Official” Pastor Appreciation month is almost over. However, even if you run out of days, I doubt a late letter or call of thanks would be a problem.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Locked Out of Church and Loving It

Acting Out the Gospel Message -
Locked Out of Church and Loving It

Have I got a wild idea for you, for your church? It may seem crazy, threatening and counterproductive to "doing church." But, it is an idea whose time has come. Will you take the risk of reading on and leading on?

First, some context: my notion was inspired by seeing people blocking the doors to the courthouse in Alabama to keep the Ten Commandments in the lobby. As I mulled that over, something seemed backwards to me.

When I heard Christian leaders calling people to head to Alabama to join the ranks, it became crystal clear to me. I knew what needed to be done instead.

What if, instead of protesting to keep the Law in the public arena, we stage an exact opposite protest - as reverse from that as a film negative. Let's mobilize an army of people to block church doors before some Wednesday night gathering, or gospel singing or Board meeting.

Not to barricade them in, mind you, but to keep them out.

Our militant crusaders would surround the building and keep them (us) from hiding inside the safety of our building, insisting - in a gracious, Christian way - that they take the gospel out to the public square, a needy world.

Question: are we nearly as vexed by the lack of penetration of the gospel in our world as we are the removal of the Ten Commandments from courthouses and schools?

May I make it a bit more personal? When you have been disturbed by news of "getting God out" of public settings, have you also allowed yourself to be nearly as upset by the minimal movement to get the gospel message out by God's people?

The presence or absence of the Law from the lobby of a courthouse is far less significant than the absence of believers in the world sharing Jesus. Hands down, no competition.

In fact, at one level, to insist on The Law leaves people in a condemned state, in more desperate need of the gospel (see Romans 7; Galatians 3 & 4). To fight for The Law in such public arenas at neglect of the gospel is cruel. Granted, they are not contrary to one another, but certainly the gospel completes the Law.

Back to our budding protests. A militant group called ACT UP has garnered headlines in the past few years with outlandish, often rude protests and disruptions. How about forming an alternative group for Jesus' people?

Let us start "Act It Out", a squad of disciples of Jesus who refuse to simply "be in their place" every time the church doors are open.

We "Act It Out" radicals would refuse to come to every church event, too busy taking Jesus' love and message of forgiveness to those who do not come to us. Have noticed that they don't come? Who said it was their job to come to us?

News would spread of us showing up in nursing homes with listening ears and hugging arms, converging on widow's homes to cut their grass, rake their leaves and disappear as suddenly as we came.

Rumors would spread of "Act It Outers" blitzing food banks with bags of needed groceries, showing up with quarters in laundry mats, paying for people's wash cycle (Jesus did ours).

Word would get out of people being fishers of men with hammers, pulling wires, painting, landscaping, building habitats on earth, while telling about ones available in heaven.

Pews would grow occasionally cold, as we A.I.O.'ers are MIA (Missing In Action) in the best sense of the word: picking up trash, sharing a tract, telling the gospel, offering food for both body and soul.

To be fair, the first "lock out" should be at my church, during the week, when I am heading to the office. Start with me. While I need office and study time, I can hide behind my desk, with my books to a sinful fault.

Go ahead, make my day, flush me out - better yet, fence me out some time.

So, if I arrive at church some day to face a loving, smiling, singing group of protestors blocking my way, I will count myself blessed. I will head to the bank, get a roll of quarters and hit some laundry mats, taking a few of you with me.

But be warned, I will also try my best to organize a retaliatory lock out at
your place some time soon. And payback - in this case - can be heaven.

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.' " (Mark 16:15)

"Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' " (John 20:21 - NIV)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I was one conversation away from . . .

. . . coming home from church real encouraged. Should have snuck out while I could ;-)

Overall, a good AM. God was kind to this tired pastor / teacher, & I trust to His people through me. Would have paid big bucks to have come home upbeat. Frankly, could use a dose of that right now.

Prayers appreciated.

For the record, the last Conversationalist was not intending to discourage or change the tone of my day. A dear, loved, trusted friend. Come to think of it, I probably had the same impact on him . . . bummer . . .

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Unintended Racism - Real & Ugly None the less

I remember when it dawned on me in my 30’s that I had never - as I can recall - heard even as much as an application of the gospel on racism, much less a sermon on this topic.

I grew up in “solid” Bible teaching (white) churches in the South. I do remember rumors of deacons guarding the doors for disruptive radicals (blacks). I now recall & recognize code racist language in church and suspicion of liberals who were “into those social causes”.

To have been baptised in this setting for 18 + years, it was all but impossible to know what was missing. I had been saved, I had been baptized, I had joined, I had, I…, I, I. What more was there other that getting other people saved and supporting missions - over there?

I have needed and deeply appreciate some patient, mature Af. Americans in my life who put up with left over bigotry I am still blind to. Recovery is slow because new sight can come slowly, no matter how much it is desired.

Redefining assumed correct areas is more than repentance. Repentance rejects known areas of sin. Sanctification means encountering new old areas all the time. Those ugly “ah ha” moments when the Spirit tenderly shows you pockets of sinful thinking & attitudes. If nothing else keeps us humble in life, this ought.

God help us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

God, Katrina, Rita and You

Maybe it is not just about Judgment

Want a volatile conversation? Discuss the role and relationship of The Almighty to Katrina, Rita and their cousins: earthquakes, droughts, tsunamis and lightening strikes.

In Legal and insurance language, they are called “Acts of God.” Are they? Would He? Does He dare?

Without pretending to even begin a full answer these deep matters of theology, questions of theodicy, I do want to ask a few questions to stimulate thought, and yes, risk the charge and possible guilt of arrogance by positing a few observations.

Often, in our efforts to keep from saying that God was punishing those “worse sinners,” we look for ways to excuse God from blame, responsibility, or involvement in natural disasters all together. In our attempts to keep His hands clean and reputation intact, we unwittingly shape a God to our liking, if not in our image.

In trying to exonerate God, do we at times become functional Deists: He let’s nature run its course? Or, do we become self-righteous: THEY deserved it, as wicked as they were? Or, do we unwittingly feign omniscience: we know with prophetic certainty that God was judging?

What if cruel Mistresses Katrina and Rita brought revival to America? What if they serve to awaken the church, getting her out selflessly serving others? What if their impact leads to unbelieving evacuees hearing the gospel, gaining an eternal home at the loss of their temporal one?

How about the fleeing faithful who were scattered (seeded?) across the nation, having new platforms to share Jesus, edify other Christians? Not to mention the chance to nationally mend racial wounds, help the disenfranchised, force a discussion of a more equitable society.

If these and other things happen, would we then thank and credit God for these heavy, hurtful blows? Would judgment talk shift to that of a gracious sovereign work? Or is He just good at a mop up operations after the fact? “Didn’t see that one coming.”

It seems to me that when we say God just lets nature follow its course – hurricanes happen- it does little to get God "off the hook." If He could have stopped Katrina and did not, He is as much at “fault" as if He caused it outright. Isn’t to allow it to condone or permit it, with all its attending results?

Romans nine tells us the Fall of Us’ins (that’s politically correct for Man) had a deep, ugly impact on physical earth too (Gen. 1-3). Terra firma, with its God-ordained cycles and systems, groans, longing to be redeemed, restored.

Part of what will make heaven heavenly (ala Rev. 21, 22), is that nature will finally be fixed. We read of lions playing with, not preying on lambs. Cobras will curl up with, not coil up towards, children.

We, like long-suffering Job, are stuck with God, whose ways are higher than ours, even when they seem evil, capricious or insane. Like Job and his buddies, we too often darken His counsel with our words without knowledge. Want to be humbled, bothered and comforted? Read Job 38-42.

I recently read my kids the story of Elijah when God sent a drought. God was purposeful and causative in this matter. About Noah’s Flood: whose flood? Could not judgment on our entire nation be part of what God has wrought?

Ponder author Philip Yancey’s great question: The issue is not why do bad things happen to good people, but why do good things happen to bad people?

I confess I fear our culture has bred & fed a view of God that is too little and a view of man that is too big. Let’s be honest, a Big God who can do as He wills is humbling to man. My pride chaffs at such. Yours does too.

A Big God who may be up to more than my mind can ever grasp calls me to see my smallness. My mind hates the competition, the reminder of finite-ness.

A Big God is scary. Yet a Big God is what we have here, gang. One whose ways and thoughts more than transcend ours. He is transcendent and imminent, above and beside. Remember that baby in the manger (Matt. 1-3; Phil. 2:1-11)?

What about Satan’s part in these calamities? Martin Luther said “Satan is God's little errand boy.” I like that. Better yet, I think that is fair to “the Book.”

There is no relative comparison of God and Satan - not even King Kong versus a flea – pardon the analogy. This is not a yin yang, balancing of natures’ forces. Sorry, God wins hands down. Game over.

God’s God-ness, His Theism is not open to our wants and preferences. He is and He is as He is. We are called on to worship Him, knowing that it is because we see through a glass dimly that He would seem to us to have any blemishes.

In a context of adversity, the Psalmist prayed: “You are good and what You do is good. Teach me Your decrees… It was good for me to be afflicted so I could learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:68, 71).

Since God is good and does God, we do well to humbly ask for understanding when His ways do not seem so good. And, we need to be ready to accept His answer if He chooses not to take us into His confidence about eternal plans.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Did 17 miles on a bike today . . .

mostly down hill (the Virginia Creeper, near Abingdon, VA), with 11 boys ages 9-12, five other leaders. Put chains back on, had bandaids ready, raised a few seats, tightened... shared water . . . urged on a slow poke or two . . . Rump is sore & whole body.

It was a good time with Kaleb (my 10 year old).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Answering “Chicken Little” from Psalm 11
Keeping Firm in Faith when even Friends Say “Flee”

When fear is in your face, trash talking you ‘til you tremble & it seems the sky IS falling, what do you do? When the enemies are very real and gaining on you, challenging your faith, how do you survive? Who the LORD is & who He is to you at such times makes no small difference. He is the place to run to when tempted to run. Psalm 11 helps give you ammo to take out Chicken Little.

The Father is My Fortress. Flee? PHOOEY - vs. 1a
1 In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: "Flee…”
The LORD: YHWH – the eternal, self existing One
A Refuge: a place one flees to for safety – or a PERSON

It’s not just that we have a refuge, its WHO that’s our refuge.

Sometimes the Advice is “Run – the Sky is falling” - 1b-3

Times must be hard when friends say: "Flee like a bird to your mountain.
2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows
against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

When bows are bent & foundations shake, remember:
The LORD is STILL on the throne - vs. 4-7
4 “The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne.”

He is Seated / still in Heaven He is Sovereign

He is Settled / Not in threat We’re Secure:

4b “He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them.”

He Sees - knows what’s going on, not passively detached (Deism)

He Sifts / Tests / as gold is tested

5 “The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.”

He Sorts / Separates (Matt. 25) - calls His sheep by name

He Seethes @ Sinners (Ps. 7:11)

6 “On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur…
7 For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice…”

He Settles Accounts - since He’s Righteous & Loves Righteousness

7 b “upright men will see his face.”

He Shall Fellowship with the Righteous (Psalm 1:6; Ps. 15, 24)

Is the Lord your refuge?
Is your faith settled?

When Fear knocks - let Faith answer the door

Was in Divorce Court Yesterday

. . . with my little brother (a friend now of 25 years - met Via Big / Little Brothers in 1980).

So sad to be present at the death of a marriage. I did the wedding . . . It was like being in hospice with a child, where life suport was to be removed. It was sad, tense, angering, heart breaking.

I am proud of how my Lil Bro. handled himself. She pursued this. He did not want it.

Pray for the kids of broken families - they have two kids. It is no neutral act.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Serving the God of the Living

Serving the God of the Living
Ignorance of the Law & LORD: No Excuse - Mark 12:18-27

Trying to trap Jesus is to mock Him, His word & power. After the Pharisees’ failed political ploy, the Sadducees set a tricky theological trap. Wanting to force Jesus to take sides and pick His poison (enemies), they seek to bait Him into a senseless debate.

Too wise to be fooled by smart fools, Jesus points out their sinful thinking: "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? … He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!" May Jesus show us each area in which we are badly mistaken, and ignorant of Him & His word.

Sadducees & their “Dilemma” from Deut.: “Levirate Lunacy”
“At the resurrection whose wife will she be…?"” vs. 23 (NIV)

1. Sadducees didn’t believe in Resurrection & only accepted Moses (The Torah)
2. They thought an extreme example of the Levirate Law from Deut. 25:5, 6
- One Bride For Seven Bro.’s - showed silliness of Resurrection
3. These sophisticates are mocking God, His word & Jesus
4. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Rom. 1:16 ff)

Jesus’ Revealing Reply and Rebuke
“You're way off base, and here's why: One, you don't know your Bibles; two, you don't know how God works.” vs. 24 (The Message)

These Bible Scholars were selectively & willfully blind

Jesus used Moses (Exodus 3:13-15) to show their error.

1. Our Eternal State: When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. vs. 25

There will be a Resurrection (John 5:24-26; 1 Cor. 15; Rev. 21)

We will be finished with Parenting / Marriage in heaven

2. Our Eternal God “…have you not read in the book of Moses … how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!" vs. 26, 27

Not “I was God of Abraham” - long dead when God spoke to Moses.

But “I AM…” - after their physical death, they lived on. The eternal “I AM” was still their God; the God of the living (physical & spiritual).

We are immortal beings – fit for eternity. Those who trust in Jesus, have eternal life – even now (John 17:3; 1 John 5:11-13).

If you’re mistaken about God & His word, repent & believe!

Faith: Is Yours Growing?

Faith: Is Yours Growing?
“I do believe; help my unbelief."
Becoming People of faith - Mark 9:24

The Timing: Just after a Mountain Top Experience - vs. 14
Experiences are great, as far as they go; are often short-lived.

The Setting: A Failure of Faith & Fruitless Debate: vs. 18
“I told Your disciples to cast it out,
and they could not do it." (they had the authority to: Mk 6:7, 13)

Jesus’ Reaction:
Grief & Frustration at our Faithlessness
"O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you?
How long shall I put up with you?" vs. 19 (Ps. 95:10)

A Father’s Sad Plea & Failing Faith: vs. 22
“But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"

Jesus’ Challenge & Call to Faith: vs. 23
“And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?'
All things are possible to him who believes."

An Honest Confession of Faith & Doubt: vs. 24
“I do believe” a measure of faith
“help my unbelief” a need for faith

Jesus’ Merciful Help to:
the son - He delivered him
the father - He helped his unbelief
the disciples’ - He built their faith . . . and ours

Jesus Diagnoses the Disciple’s Failure: prayerlessness / lack of faith

… "Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them,
"This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer." vs. 28, 29

Concluding Questions, Confessions & Challenges:

Which was the biggest need: the dad’s faith, his son, or His disciples?

Does Jesus need to rebuke your doubt? 'If You can?'

What is possible for you? “All things are possible to him who believes."

A Prayer for Us Doubters: “I do believe … help my unbelief”

Loving One Another: HOW

Loving One Another: HOW
Applying God’s #2 Command from Mark 12:28-34

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. … Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Gal. 6:2 &10 - NKJV

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

“The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love--so you can't know him if you don't love. 9 This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him…. 11 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 12 No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us--perfect love!” (Mark 12:30-31 - NIV & 1 John 4:8-9, 11-12 – Message)

Love One Another: The Reciprocal Commands:

Here are many of the “one another” passages: John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; Romans 12:10, 16; 13:8; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 14,27; 16:16; 1 Corin. 9:11, 11:33; 12:25; Gal. 5:13, 15, 26; 6:2,6; Eph. 4:2, 25-32; 5:21; Phil. 2:3; Col. 3:9-13; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9, 18; 5:11, 15; Heb. 10:24, 25; James 4:11; 5:9, 16; 1 Pet. 1:22; 4:9; 5:5; 1 John. 3:11. Look them up!

Heb. 10:24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - NIV

Col. 3:12 “God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. 13 Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. - CEV

Gal. 5:13 “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” NIV

John 13:34, 35 “But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples. - CEV

If this were a test, how would you do? Passing? Good marks?

Is it obvious that we are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35)?

WHO can you show love to THIS WEEK?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Today's Notes - Outline - Col. 3:16, 17

This is more outline than usual, but here it i; Sunday's notes

Teaching & Warning Each Other
“one another-ing” one another

Put On: … compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience
Bear with Each Other
Forgive Each Other
Put on love
the Ultimate Fashion Accessory
Let Christ’s peace rule in Ya’lls hearts (in the church)
Be Thankful

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col. 3:16, 17 (NIV)

Letting Him & His Word Live Big / Settle Down in Us:
Josh 1:8-9
Psalm 1
John 15

Teach Each Other (Col. 1:28)
Prov. 1
Matt. 28:16-20
Titus 2
1 & 2 Timothy

Warn / Admonish Each Other:
Gal. 2 & 6:1-9
Rom. 15:14 - is this a fair assumption of you?
1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess 3:15

... with psalms, hymns & spiritual songs

17 Whatever you do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks through Him to God the Father. NASV

Thank God His

mercies are new every morning and in each mourning.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Compassion Fatigue

This week of Katrina has worn us out. My wife & I feel a compassion / care taker fatgiue and we have not even left our homes. I post this not for pity, but to remind us to pray for the on-site caretakers. Two I will mention by name: John Gerhardt & Paul Erdman (& their wives / families) of Urban Impact / Castle Rock Comm. Ch., an inner city "Nawlins" ministry that evacutated 70 + people to Arkansas. see

I met a Salvation Army officer yesterday who, along with his wife, is being deployed to Houston to care for refugees. Pray for Matt & his wife (didn't meet her / get her name).

Neat God-timing story. Monday I was at a camp in KY. I brought home some extra food stock to use in ministry some how; camp is over & it would just sit there. Friday I was able to put in on a Salvation Army truck heading to New Orleans. I loved the thought of a poor KY camp in the hollers serving the inner city poor. Fun to have had a small hand in. Thanks to Joe P. for mentioning to me in passing that the Sal. Army was loading a truck. He & his wife - two of the poorest in our body - donated extra baby clothes & items; things they were going to use for a yard sale for sorely needed extra cash for them . Widow's Mites and loaves & fishes still exist. May God bless, break & multiply.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Who is NOT Your Neighbor?

Who is NOT Your Neighbor?

Though we likely do not know each other, we share a mutual love. It is a sentiment that is tough to admit but harder to deny - the evidence is overwhelming. Not only can I “marshal verses” to prove we possess this passion, but our family and closest friends would gladly testify against us confirming this trait.

This pervasive passion? We love ourselves – bunches. No doubt, we all do some serious self-loathing at times– some far more than others. However, on the whole, most of us feed and care for ourselves pretty doggone well. If you are in some measure sitting upright, clothed and in your right mind (see Mark 5:15), you show evidence of healthy, God-given self-love.

Here is a twist for you to consider: even some of our low self-esteem is evidence of self-love. If I did not love me, it would not matter that I thought badly of me at times. Let that soak in. It is my deep concern for me that alerts me to my needs, be they physical, social or emotional.

Good news. This is not meant as a guilt trip, but a sweet hook-setter. When Jesus set the standard of love for us to show towards others – the second greatest commandment – He chose our love for “little old us.” No 10% tithe here. This is an all-out, deep, spare-no-expense love.

When asked which commandment was most important, Jesus answered: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” As a bonus, He added that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as you love yourself. There are no other commandments greater than these, said He (see Mark 12:28-31).

If I would love others as much as I love me, and if you would do the same – whoa! Our self-partiality is an incredibly high standard to set for our practical care for others. It is not simply “do others no harm” as lofty as that would be. No, it is do good unto others the way you want them to treat you.

“Yes” we say, “but who is my neighbor? That is a big, broad command.” Great question! A Jewish Law expert already asked it of Jesus. Hearing Jesus’ summary of the Law, he got defensive and felt a need to justify his lack of love for others, especially non-Jews (Luke 10:25-37).

Jesus answered this question with the story of “The Good Samaritan.” Your neighbor is the person in your life that has a need, not just your family, friends and favorites. Jesus did not narrow the scope, but kicked out our safe parameters.

Our neighborhoods are much bigger than we think (or like). It includes many we would rather exclude, be they the wrong - I mean different - race, nationality, economic or educational strata or people pursuing life style choices we find offensive.

The Second Commandment is much simpler than we may like. When God puts someone in your life, tell them “welcome to the ‘hood!” and then love on ‘em, just like you love you. We do not want to be like murderous Cain, who smugly asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9). Able’s blood answers, “Yes,” as do the unmet needs of many we encounter but ignore. Here is a dare: Read James 2 and 1 John 3:11-24.

A fully developed neighbor-love-to-the-max includes not just the lovable. It is a love in “3 – D” that includes Distant People (Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 10:12-17), Different People (Acts 1:8; Rom. 16; Rev. 5:9-13) and Difficult People (Matt. 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-38; John 13:1-17).

Whom do you find it hard to love: the poor, the rich, minorities, majorities, Muslims, homosexuals, men, women, family, next door neighbors? God controls who is part of your neighborhood. He brings people across our paths for a purpose. Remember Ephesians 2:8-10? (See also Romans 12:9-13; Hebrews 6:10-12; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:3-9.)

The Christians in Rome were exhorted: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments… are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10 – NIV). See also 1 Samuel 15:22; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Matt. 9:13; 12:7.

To a church that was already great at loving people – something churches strive for and many pride themselves in - Paul wrote: “And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more” (1 Thess. 4:10 - NIV).

Ironically, it is your love for yourselves that gets in the way of your love for others, as mine does me. In a sentence, Jesus made it clear that if I love me and you love you – and we do – then we are to also love each other in like manner.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

When WWJD becomes WWJK

Do you pray for missionaries? Add safety to the list - or ramp it up. After all, they are part of a movement that wants to kill off Presidents. Pat Robertson, acting like a radical Muslim cleric, has called for the asassination of the Pres. of Venezuela.

Imagine being a missionary in Venezuela right now? Life just got easier. Instead of explaining that Jesus died for sinners... Indeed, it has become WWJK - Who Would Jesus Kill?

Paul addressed this nicely in Colossians 4:2-6

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (NIV - emphasis added)

Monday, August 22, 2005

God's Dress Code- Sun. notes

These are Sun AM hand-out sermon notes - I am not sure the format will work (cutting & pasting), or reading them with no context (the sermon). The dress code I refer to is from a local high school that has caused a stir by implementing one this year. It made for a nice connecting point as we talk about fulfilling the "one anothers," and "putting on" these godly traits for the church, esp. bearing wth & forgiving one another. Here ya go:

God’s Dress Code for Church
“one another-ing” one another

With all the talk of dress codes, what does God have to say about this area? Per His custom (nature), He is most concerned with inner clothing: the attitudes, commitments and character of our inner person. In Colossians, we see a list of things to put on to be ready to – not go to church - but live as the church. To survive as the diverse body Christ He has made us (His heterogeneous holy habitat), we need to dress for the occasion. These clothes are far more important than what we fuss over on Sunday mornings.

“ So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” - Col. 3:12-14 - NASV

Our Identity - (Singular & Plural: You & Ya’ll):
· New Creatures Who’ve: laid aside the old self with its evil practices (vs. 9)
put on the new self (vs. 10 - see 2 Corin. 5:17; Rom.6-8; Eph. 4-5)
are being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of Jesus

· Diverse: “Greek & Jew, circumcised & uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave & freeman” vs. 11

· Unified: but Christ is all, and in all. (vs. 11 & Eph. 4:1-6)

· God’s Very Own People: Chosen of God, Holy, Beloved (vs. 12; Eph. 1 & 2; Rom. 8:33; Tit. 1:1)

God’s Dress Code for Church (His People): “Ya’ll Put On:”
· a heart of compassion σπλαγχνα οικτιρμου
· kindness χρηστοτητα
· humility ταπεινοφροσυνην
· gentleness πραυτητα
· patience μακροθυμιαν

Note: these are inward attitudes / clothes that will have outward impact

Family / Church Responsibilities: Since You’re all Dressed up:
· Bear with one another (vs. 13) ανεχομενοι αλληλων
Endure, be patient with, give patient attention to one another

· Forgive each other (vs. 13) χαριζομενοι εαυτοις - Matt. 6:12-14; Eph. 4:32-5:2

- forgiving—concerns past offenses - forbearing – deals with present offenses

What: Forgive - Grant, bestow upon; deal with generously or graciously, pardon;
hand over or release (a prisoner); cancel a debt (Luke 7:42, 43); be returned (Phlm 22)

Who: Whoever has a complaint against anyone: a cause of blame or complaint.

Just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you forgive others

· Put on love (14) the Ultimate Fashion Accessory - it is the perfect bond of unity

Do you put equal concern over getting dressed in this fashion?

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” - Col. 3:12-14 - The Message, by Eugene Petersen

Sunday, August 14, 2005

An Honest Bias - Not So Good Science Alert

Harvard is out to show God He wasn't needed in creation... okay, that' my head line for this article.

Here is a prime quote:

"My expectation is that we will be able to reduce this to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention," said David R. Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard."

I can't wait. I trust the Lord ain't sweating it too bad.

Loving One Another: HOW - the Sun. notes

Here are this Sun.'s Sermon notes (the handout "da people" get.) This sermon is a follow up of - a rabbit trail from - Mark 12:28-34. I am not sure how it will love / read as a "copy / paste", but here it is.

Loving One Another: HOW

Applying God’s #2 Command from Mark 12:28-34

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. … Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Gal. 6:2 &10 - NKJV

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

“The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love--so you can't know him if you don't love. 9 This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him…. 11 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 12 No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us--perfect love!” (Mark 12:30-31 - NIV & 1 John 4:8-9, 11-12 – Message)

Love One Another: The Reciprocal Commands:

Here are many of the “one another” passages: John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; Romans 12:10, 16; 13:8; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 14,27; 16:16; 1 Corin. 9:11, 11:33; 12:25; Gal. 5:13, 15, 26; 6:2,6; Eph. 4:2, 25-32; 5:21; Phil. 2:3; Col. 3:9-13; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9, 18; 5:11, 15; Heb. 10:24, 25; James 4:11; 5:9, 16; 1 Pet. 1:22; 4:9; 5:5; 1 John. 3:11. Look them up!

Heb. 10:24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - NIV

Col. 3:12 “God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. 13 Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. - CEV

Gal. 5:13 “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” NIV

John 13:34, 35 “But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples. - CEV

1. If this were a test, how would you do? Passing? Good marks?

2. Is it obvious that we are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35)?

3. WHO in our church family can you show love to THIS WEEK?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Pondering Public Prayers and Pray-ers

One of the privileges and duties of pastors is to say public prayers. In the past week, I said two such prayers: one at a recreational event, one in a civic setting - unspecified to make lawsuits harder. Just curious: are such prayers said, offered, prayed, given, invoked…?

These two occasions stirred thought and created a few good questions. I trust I am not over-thinking this, making a simple matter complicated. (My children have on rare occasion accused me of doing that.) Shouldn’t one just get out there and pray?

The God we serve and the people we seek to lead into His presence in the few moments of prayer deserve careful thought, prayer and some level of preparation.

At the ball game, I prayed for safety, good sportsmanship, the satisfaction of doing one’s best, and all of it to be done to the glory of God. I had no written text, no notes – other than mental. Just simply, as a friend at the game said, throwing out the first pitch – verbal.

At the civic event, I had / used / said / read / offered a written prayer: eyes open, Bible open (to hide the notes – is that lying?), voice louder to be heard by all, in Jesus’ name. And yes, I wrote it – it was not an "Internet special."

It used to bother me to see – why were my eyes open? – people reading prayers at public events: inaugurations, dedications, weddings, and funerals. Yet, having been in some of those spots, I can appreciate going the text route.

More than once I have been tired enough to start a bedtime prayer with "Lord, thank you for this food..." How terrible does it sound to say special occasions call for special prayers? Not to impress either people or God –as if we could– but to fit the moment, meet the need.

Certainly the prayer said before cake and ice cream at a child’s birthday party is different than one said at a child’s funeral. One requires much less thought than the other.

Should public prayers be written, rehearsed, reviewed and edited before the event? Or should they be spontaneous, Spirit-lead (false dichotomy alert), from the heart (alert #2), and sincere (#3)?

Why is it seen as relying on God when one waits until they stand up to pray, trusting Him for words for the moment? Is not the same Spirit able to lead in quiet moments of preparation as well? Is He not willing to guide hours or even days prior to such events? One could argue that waiting until the moment is presuming on Him.

When Jesus said to not worry about what you would say in front of civic leaders, He was referring to when you were dragged there for your faith. Not about being invited to express faith and seek God’s merciful help and guidance.

When Nehemiah appeared before the king to request permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, it was after weeks of prayer and careful thought. What he said was critical, his life was on the line.

The Bible is full of written or pre-thought out prayers, ones crafted to the occasion (see Ezra 9, Nehemiah 1 and 9, Luke 2:46-55, the Psalms, Revelation, Jonah 2).

While prayers should be heartfelt and never mindless repetition, that does not preclude making use of a written or memorized prayer ("Our Father, which art…").

Are public prayers times to preach, to speak for God as one speaks -pretends to? - to God; the role of the prophet. Or are they times to speak to God on behalf of all present; being a priest? Is it an invitation for an invocation or an opportunity to impugn and indict?

A closing note of humor and irony: at the game, a teen from my church took great delight in telling me the microphone went in and out and you could only hear half of what I was saying. (Yo Josh, 50 % is better than you usually do. Sorry. Just remember who bought you that slice of pizza.)

Josh’s gleeful report reminded me to remember to Whom I was praying. Though I was praying to be heard by all there, what mattered most was being heard by God.

In case you are interested, and since it is already written, here is the prayer I used / lifted up / read / gave (which is it?) at the government function:

Almighty God, Lord of villages, towns, sprawling suburbs and vast urban areas, we pause to purposefully be mindful of You and to seek Your wisdom and mercies.

Thank you for the sacrificial service of each of our public officials; those elected, those appointed, those hired on. We honor You for their important and tireless work, much of it unseen and under-appreciated.

Thank You that all of our efforts are before You, and that they are noticed and rewarded.

Keep each of our leaders mindful of the needs of those they represent and serve. Help each of us to humbly set aside any selfish or pride-driven agendas. Make us unyielding where necessary and flexible where needed and appropriate. May our desire to win or garner recognition be transformed into a passion to please You and do right by others.

Grant grace that each of us, as fellow citizens, would act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with You, our God. These things we ask in Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Changes a foot - Our School House is Rocked

Our four boys - all four of them - will be in public schools this year. We (MY WIFE) has home schooled them in part or all of them some years. Karter went to Middle school last year - great experience. Kamron went to public school for K (repeated - had his first dose at home) & 1st grade - also a great experience. Other than that, it has been Robin & the Krew. She is ready for a break.

Karissa - our 16 year old will be home schooled for her Sr. Year, but she is very "low maintenance" - meaning she is incredibly self motivated, and does most of it herself. She has an awesome work ethic. She will be taking college classes again.

So, pray for Robin - my beloved. Life is about to change for her. She will be refocusing, redefining her pursuits, the use of her time...

Pray also for our boys to be ambassadors, good friends, discerning, bold, gracious and diligent students.

We will have kids in five different schools (Elem., Middle, Sr. High, Home & College). Can you say PTA?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Kindness of God at a K Mets Game

So I get out the phone number of some one I feel I need / ought to call - pastorally. A troubled, deeply-in-crisis last time we talked person (trying to be nondescript here). This soul is not part of our church, nor have they called me in a while. Were they better or was it over, too late, beyond remedy...

So, I have the number in hand & don't call... too tired, its late in the day. Not feeling up to handling what I expect to be bad news. Not sure they still live there... Just can't, don't... not sure if I am coping out or being honest...

So, we go to see Roger Clemens & his son at the K Mets game again.
Who else do I see at the game?
Who do I get to visit with & do some checking up on?
Who do I find out is doing better than I would have guessed?
Who do I get to breifly challenge / exhort, encourage?

Thank You LORD!
And as weak as this is, forgive me for where in this I did not follow you.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Rocket Man - near miss

Went to a Kingsport Mets game tonight with the older three. Three stories:

1. A guy - 5'11" - pitched in the mid 90's

2. Roger Clemens' kid (Kody?) played - one of his first pro games.

3. Roger Clemens was at the game. We, and a 100+ others, tried & failed to get his autograph. A few lucky ones got it before he left the stadium. FYI: He is a big guy.

We did get his kid's autograph. Fun time & a free game.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Proof I don't get it ... maybe

I have more than once wondered . . . could it be that many of us are funtionally emergent, even if we are not so labled? But due to age, hipness factor, lingo, technology... we are not seen as such in the - here I go, watch me here - conversation ;-)

We are straddled with a traditional building, within a denom. & so are the old wineskins, by default... Frankly, much of what I read about in Emrg. is stuff I have done / espoused for years (a decade & a half). I am sure I am missing some key pieces, & don't get it, but there is an element in emer. conversation of a seeming strong need to make a "we / them", even if at times it does not exist...

Oh well, I probably just proved "I don't get it" - like the any one who turns down a opportunity to sale Amway ;-)

I have been out of or at least not doing traditional ministry for so long, I forget the proponderance of churches can seem / be tradition driven. Maybe that is the snag.

Hope this makes sense... go easy on me, I am an older white male geiser, the very picture of "the system". Sorry, did I slide into political jargon there?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

A poem about Heaven - from a friend

An e-mail I was sent. Is cute too trite a description?
It is indeed By Grace, or Else...

A poem about Heaven
- unknown -

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
as I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
by the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
who made me sputter and gasp--
the thieves, the liars, the sinners,
the alcoholics, the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
who never said anything nice.
Uncle Bill, who I always thought
was rotting away in hell,
was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, "What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.
And why's everyone so quiet,
so somber? Give me a clue."
"Hush, child," said He.
"They're all in shock.
No one thought they'd see you."

Friday, July 08, 2005

Stolen from Scot McKnight

That alternative is this: the Christian faith or following Jesus, whichever linguistic turn you prefer, is a meta-narrative. But it is not a modernist meta-narrative that is the result of scientific research, objectivist analysis, and indubitable certainties. Nor is it a postmodernist construction, but a "proper confidence" in the work of God in and through Jesus Christ who invites each of us to walk into the story of God and become a character in God's story in this world. One could say the postmodernists have taught us that modernist truth claims might be more gently expressed today, by the Christian, as truth proclaims. One comes into contact with this "noumena," not be science but by seeing it performed by the community of Jesus, and that all of this is work of the Holy Spirit, grasped by a faith commitment.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Pray for Mom - please & thanks

We are again honored to have my Mom with us. Maybe until late Aug.

Pray for her as feels that since she is unable to stay alone, in her own house, she is stupid. She knows her new limits and they slap her in her face. It is so sad. Not a matter of logic or weak faith, but very real.

Pray for her to feel at home here again. Due to her worrying, we did not tell her she was coming to TN with us until an hour before we packed her up. Thankfully, she takes it overall very well. She - praise God - knows we are doing what we think is best for her & she trusts us in that.

My brother is having a her a room built & the construction process would start to be invasive on the house & worrisome to Mom, so it was great timing to be in GA & bring her up. We are hoping it is "out of sight, out of mind" as far as construction concerns. Unfortunately, it will be new things here, or where ever she is.

Please pray for her / us. Please speak to her when you see her - if she comes to church. Maybe drop her a card. Give her a call here at the house...

You are her extended family here. Please give that some thot. That is no small statement, not one I make lightly.

The mega church she is a memeber of in GA - one of the denomination's biggest - continues to send her offering envelopes & that is it. No calls, visits, cards... There was a meal after dad died & a card or two. Do you sense some bitterness on my part? YES! If this lesson is wasted on me (us), woe be to us. And may God forgive any self-righteousness or unfairness on my part.

As believers, we are family, not just co-worshippers & co-laborers. This is not a "guilt you" statement, but a reminder to each of us of our duties towards each of us. We need to break even more cultural bonds and step more deeply into each other's lives, even if not invited. Yes, even if not invited (read 1 Thess.).

Thursday, June 23, 2005

stole this quote from another blog . . .

Mike Yaconelli wrote:

Then we go to church, and we leave completely demoralized by the expert insights into the nuances of the original Greek and Hebrew, which are obviously out of our intellectual reach as laypersons; the clear and obvious principles of godly living that everyone should know, but of course, we don’t know; the unending litany of success stories that make anything that has happened to us pale in comparison. The worship band is so polished, the choir is so professional, the drama is so theatrical, and the multimedia presentation so state-of-the-art that we leave reaffirmed in our own incompetence. It is no wonder that you and I, the ordinary people of God, go to bed each night with a dull uneasiness, a gnawing ineptitude that is present when we drift off to sleep and there to greet us when we awaken in the morning.

We constantly hear complaints about the lethargy of the Church, the apathy of the congregation, the inactivity of the majority. Could it be that the collective passiveness of the church is the direct consequence of the expertise of the leadership? Could it be that the unwillingness to perform by the many is a natural response to the flawless performance of the few? Could it be that the authority of the expert has robbed the non-expert of any authority at all? Could it be that the unending parade of "heroes" has made it impossible to find the real heroes hiding in the ordinary and commonplace?

The power of the Church is not in its super-preachers, or its mega-structures, or its large institutions. The power of the Church is in its individual people whose sacrifices throughout everyday life have an authority no expert can match."

- - - - - - -

KSD adds: Amen, amen & amen. Our "successes" are our failures. We model what few can do. Excellence is used as an excuse for not being involoved orletting people serve. People are impressed, not equipped.

Are unbelievers really more impressed by a perfect show or authentic living!? Is God?

What if the "paid pros" all went away... could we DO / have church? If the power went off (electric) would be be able to have "praise & worship"?

How did they do it before we had such gadgets & greatness?
How do they do in China, Haiti, India, MOST of the world...?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Fresh back from Camp

well... after my shower, I am back fresh, having spent the night at camp. The older three guys are at Boys Scout camp this week, Karissa is at Kristie's tonight & Kamron is at the Presleys tonight. Could someone get Peanut?

I will be speaking at Bancroft Thur & Fri (9 AM) - Missions Speaker. I can't wait to see what I have to say ;-) Actually, as an emergency fill-in speaker, I need to decide which way I want to go: ministry trip stories to India & Mexico, Matt 28:16-20, life in Brooklyn, NY. . . )

Saturday, June 18, 2005

My first Father's Day . . .

. . . with out Dad, who went to be with the Lord on Dec. 2, 04. It is an easy date to remember, it is one day after my 20th Anniversary.

This fatherless Father's Day makes me thankful for:
the dad I had
that I had him for so long - 43 years.
that I had a dad around at all
- so many have never had a dad on Father's Day
my five great kids
my wonderful wife
my marvelous Mom
and my Heavenly Father

Dad, I love and miss you,


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sunday Miscel.

Good day with God's folk at church.
Nice lunch with the Seatons and Mozers.
Sweet VBS program for Kaleb & Kamron this PM,
- a VBS put on by three churches: a Ch of God, S. Bapt & U Method. churches - neat unity.
Kimsey & Karter packing for camp (s) - Bancroft this week, Scout camp next
I need to decide about going to EFCA Nat Confer in Pitt., PA at month's end... have a ride, scholarship money... no houseing arrangments yet. I may room with a missinary friend. in Mexico . . .
We need to plan if we are going to IL this summer - Robin & the kids may need to go without me...
I am speaking at a camp in KY in July - plese pray

Saturday, June 04, 2005

If I am not being too vain . . .

Check this out

More KSD thots / writings. May they edify.

A Parable: Beligerant Bridge Builders


"I just don't get it! Why don't they use the bridge?" the baffled and offended hardhat-wearing contractor asks himself out loud. "I mean, after all those months of hard work, the couple of millions of dollars we spent, they still refuse. I don't get it!"

"Hey moron" he yells out, with spit, "why don't ya use the bridge we built ya? Why don't you and your freaky friends use it? It's for you to use, too, ya know."

Exasperated, he pauses, sighs heavily, then draws in another breath to finish his tirade and release his pent-up anger. "How could we make it any clearer to you idiots? Don'tcha know how stupid you look wadding through the river and putting up planks to cross over? For God's sake, use the stinking bridge. That's why we built it. What's wrong with you?"

"Ya wanna know why we don't use your bridge?" the "moron" replies. "Ya really want to know?"

A pause borne of surprise is lengthened by a time of decision. The bridge builder had not expected an answer. As angry as he was, he was not sure he wanted one. Besides, he fumed, what possible sensible reasons could they offer? Smugly confident in his safe position, he sarcastically replied "Go for it."

"I'll tell ya why we don't use your bridge" the hurt-filled voice answered. "It's not because it's not a fine enough bridge for us. No, it's a great looking bridge and I am sure it will serve certain people very well. To tell ya the truth, I'm happy for them. But we don't use your bridge because we know we are not welcome on it!"

"What?" cried the incredulous builder. "Not welcome? What part of ‘open to everyone' do you not understand?"

"Saying it is built for us is one thing. Treating us like ya really want us to use it is another. We heard you while you were building it. We heard how you talked about us, about how you seemed even resentful in having to build it. Being disdained hardly makes a soul feel welcomed. Where I'm from, hatred hardly puts out the welcome mat very convincingly.

"You built a right fine bridge all right, and it cost you aplenty. No disputing that. But it seems it was paved with ill will - raw begrudging duty."

"What are you talking about?" replied the stunned contractor, a little less bold and a hint of red flushed out on his checks.

"It's real simple. You spit in the soup and then blame the hungry for not eating it. You cook up a feast - begrudgingly - invite us over but leave out the attack dogs. You say they are on chains and won't hurt us, but we've been bitten too many times already. It's hard to feel welcomed when your host seems ready to hit you."

Those words hit the contractor hard.

"I would rather wade through the slough than use your bridge. You only built it because you had to, not because you give a ‘spit in the wind' for us. If you do care for us, you have a very funny way of showing it. Crossing your bridge would mean ignoring how you bridge builders treated us people who need your bridge. I'd rather wade."

Before he knew what he was doing, the bridge builder found himself waste-deep in the water. He had an apology to make - one that were it not accepted, he would understand. Yet, he needed to go to this unlikely teacher and offer both thanks for his candor as well as regrets over his own behavior.

Even as water filled his boots, he realized that he needed to build another bridge - possibly several more. This one needed to be built differently. The plans for this span-closer called for grace, compassion, mercy, humility, sincerity, tenderness.

Though tempted to tear down the old bridge, it was decided to leave it as a reminder, a sad memorial to sacrifice wasted.

Sat AM

Stayed up late watching Spider Man II with the guys (2 AM)
good movie, but - yawn - I is sleepy
I think they gave in by having MJ run from the altar to Peter.
Yes, sweet ending, but the easy way out.
To clean / feel good of a ending.
I know, they can make up for it by having Green Gob II take out MJ in # 3...
jus kiddin' - it ain't Bat Man (aka as Dark Man)

Heading off soon to take Karissa to work
Robin & the little guys are at a home school book sale.
Big boys are z z z z z -ing. They may be paintballing later

A second church starts using our building tonight - seem like great folks.
It is an honor to share kingdom resources.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Just stuff - life

Karter's baseball team is 4& 1. Kimsey's is close to that, I think
Yes, they are having fun . . . winning is lots of fun.

Karissa is working lots of hours this week - making bucks
Karter helped friend move & got $80 - good stuff
Robin works from dawn to dusk & gets squat
well - we share, so I guess that counts

I can not imagine being married to a mate I couldn't trust.
I never even think in terms of "do I trust her?"
Nor, I feel certain, does she. I am a blessed man . She did okay
May each of you be even half as blessed as I am with her.

YO - 'Vette - I drove up tonight & Robin was ... ready ... cutting the grass. I thought of you. For the record, I had cut some earlier & then cut some tonight until dusk.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Thanks Lord

Mr. Not So Handy Man here... thanking the Lord for His grace. I replaced the motor on the dishwasher. Minimal hassles, no real extra surprises, had patience to deal with small spaces... & it seems to be working - no leaks or nuthin' ;-)

Thanks Lord & Robin for helping / praying

I respect those who do this kind of a thing for a living. We would starve if I had to.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Friday, May 13, 2005

Braggin' on My Bro & His Wife

My brother Kevin & his wife Kathy have come for a visit - us & Mom. He is doing a stand up job of taking care of Mom's affairs, house, business...

Kathy made a great statement about marriage. One of her / their kids - all adults now asked her if she ever tired of Dad (Kevin)? She said "yes, but she was sure he got tired of her too. Welcome to the real world of marriage." SUCH honest, uncommon wisdom. Working through, waiting out those times is often all that separates broken & surviving / thriving marriages.

Monday, May 09, 2005

This week: Baseball, NY, Scouts, Mom . . .

Karissa heads to NY with the Drama Club to see shows
She has tickets for Julius Caeasar with Denzel Washington
We are jealous / excited for her

Kimsey & Karter are in baseball,
though the new fields in town are not ready . . .
any one know why?
Kimsey's team has not had one practice & will not this week
First game ... next week
"Hi, I'm your coach. Can you Pitch? Here's the ball"
For the record - not his fault

Kaleb is an official Boy Scout, having finished Webelows
Kamron is a Cub Scout
They are also in AWANA

Column due this week
Kimsey & Karter may be on a Scout trip / hike on App. Trail this weekend

Mom is still up with us
My brother Kevin may be coming up Thur. with Kathy
(s h h h ... don't tell Mom)

God is good, faithful, merciful, patient & forgiving

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Missing Ken - 2/22/99

Six years ago today, my brother Ken died of hopelessness.

Not skirting the issue, he took his own life - one shot to the chest with his .22 pistol, in his living room, on his recliner. With divorce immanent and life catching up with him, despair and depression took their toll. A toll that is still being taken on us.

I miss him. Not as much as his dear daughter, son and wife. Not as badly as my dad & mom. Maybe not as badly as my other brother (they buddied around more). But I miss him too. And I regret all he has missed - his son's wedding, dad's death, niece & nephew's birth...

It is easy to speak of suicide as a selfish act. No doubt, it is. It is also an act of irrational despair, despondence, guilt, shame and anger. Selfishness almost seems to assume more rationality and intentionality than was present.

I asked my brother Kevin, who was heading to the cemetery, to tell Ken hello for me & kick his headstone. He understood. Ken would too.

We love you Mom, Diana, Rachel & Kenneth and are so sorry.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

First Words, First Light

How fitting. God's first recorded words in Holy Writ are: "Let there be light" (Gen. 1:3). As we embark on a New Year, we do well to turn to the light, let our light shine, walk in the light and worship Him who is the light.

Let us, in concerted effort with and in subordination to God, work to dispel darkness and disperse light. God saw & still sees light as good. Fellowship with Him - who is the Light - separates us from darkness. On this first day of a new creation of a new year, ler us purpose to be people of light.

Genesis 1:3 "And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day."

Ephesians 5:8 "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

(See John 1:1-10; Eph. 4:17-24; 5:8-14; Matt:5:13-16; 1 John 1:4-10)

Haven't Posted All Year

He was & He will be - faithful.
He is & He shall be - forgiving.
He gave & He shall give - mercy.
He is & He can only be - GOOD.