Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Introduction: (If you need the scriptures that go with this you've proven my point.)
A. Like the survivors in Spartacus, who showed their love and commitment for their leader by declaring "I am Spartacus!" and die with him - we need to say "I am church!" It IS WHAT WE ARE not the building, not the cathedral, the temple, shrines, organizations, institutions, religious bodies, or even denominations. Ekklesai is the "called out people!" It's the institutional church that is so negatively perceived in our culture now.
B. Our cultural training teaches us: You go to church to show that you are a good person. (and right people go to the right church - right?) Our culture built the church we know not the Restoration Movement. And now our culture is rejecting it!
C. It's time to Be Real rather than Be Church. Some cultural myths:
1. Church is a place. God says church is people!
A. Acts 2:42-47 early church was people helping people grow.
B. Like the difference in a house vs. a home - which do we have?
2. Church defines our faith! God defines our faith!
A. You're not faithful unless church says you are? Why?
B. We believe biblical knowledge must come from church. Why? Haven't we diminished personal study with that thinking? Same for worship, giving, witnessing, and our walk with God. ?That's why little happens outside of assembled church!
3. Church is about religion! God says it's about relationships!
A. First & always with Him, Son, and Holy Spirit.
B. With His people - love one another & learn to love Him!
C. Fear of error has become more important than love! Why?
4. Church is a Temple. God says it's a tool!
A. Church is not an option! What you are! How you grow!
B. But it's building love! Love is essential not traditional church!
C. Family of God? Body of Christ? Goal is relationship with Him and the church together is the support system. Others support us, we grow by supporting others!
D. The definition of faithfulness is love (Gal.5:4)
E. 1 Cor.13:1-3 love over extreme acts of church!
Conclusion: We have "churchitosis"! Like halitosis - stinking! Only cure is mouthwash! Our wash is "The Living Water" Jesus.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
And then - the handing out of all the gifts. There really was carpet under all that! The kids handed them out, but Nana had to help them read the tags and tell them who to take them to. It actually took awhile.
Friday, December 21, 2007
1. I love their incredible attention to detail. They are masters of the BIG, but what gives them class is all the little touches that they put into everything.
2. Every employee - they call cast members - is happy, positive, personable, helpful, and attentive. Impressive.
3. Everything is clean, neat, and in it's place - heaven for us borderline OCD-types.
4. It's a wonderful place for an adult vacation, even though it's usually thought of as being for kids. If you're an empty nester - try it!
5. It's a very physical vacation. It takes a lot of walking to see everything and do it all. I did see lots of wheelchairs and motorized chairs. If you can't do a lot of walking, you must have something like that.
6. It's not a place for people or families who are stressed, impatient, or who have children we politely call "strong willed". The crowds, the wear & tear, and the waiting are hard on the competitive, the confrontational, and the non-compliant - regardless of their age. But it's really not a place for small children who'd just as soon ride the children's train at your mall.
7. It's top rate, first class entertainment. Every show is big, beautiful and Broadway quality. (i.e. The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, and the Lights, Camera, Action Car/Stunt Show is unbelievable - yes, even the High School Musical show at MGM was fun)
8. The Expedition Everest ride is incredible. A guy died of heart attack on it the day after we left. Been there - done that - never again! And the new "Soaring" ride is worth the price of the whole trip and the long wait!
9. The organization and coordination of transportation from airport to resort to whatever park and back is impressive - not to mention convenient.
10. For us, we know its a great place because of all the times we found ourselves saying, "Wouldn't the kids and grand kids love this!" So yes, it's a great adult vacation, but even better when you can share it with loved ones. This time it was special friends. Next time - who knows - maybe the whole family!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Introduction: There's not enough room here to tell my joke I used, but I made the point that it's really hard to know the truth about others. It's hard to know the truth about yourself sometimes. I believe this is one of the reasons so many people believe that truth is relative, situational, in flux, or always changing - because people are always changing. People are un-true, therefore life is un-true. They reject absolutes and values. People know better, but they are trying to escape responsibility or guilt. "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." Three thoughts about why the world view is wrong.
1. Truth is situational! Wrong! The world is confusing absolutes with application! Because people differ about the application of a truth, doesn't mean the truth itself is wrong or relative.
A. That's why Paul warned us to "handle the word of truth" correctly.
B. Mk.10:42-45 Jesus taught on servant leadership, but in the very next chapter (11:12-18) He made a whip and cleared out the Temple. Is that a conflict of truth or and application of truth?
C. Eph.4:15 "speaking the truth in love" is very difficult. Requires different applications.
2. Truth is "in the eye of the beholder." Wrong! Truth is in the One we behold!
A. Rom.3:4 "Let God be true and every man a liar."
B. Truth is the gospel - the gospel is God's Word & will! Jn.17:17 Sanctifies; 8:32 sets free; 14:6 in Jesus; Phil.4:8 fills our minds.
C. Man conveniently changes the truth to fit himself. See Rom.1:18-25
D. A country w/o values has problems! It's hard to have values w/o recognizing the giver of values.
3. Truth is elusive - unknowable! Wrong! Truth is knowable - it's just uncomfortable and convicting!
A. Col.3:16 Read it - what's hard to know? Hard to do - is the problem!
B. Gal.1:6-10 Another gospel? Really? No, just pleasing men!
C. Gal.2:20, Know, sing, memorize - but real?
Conclusion: Here's the truth! God made you, loves you, wants a relationship with you. He made a way for the unholy to unite with the Holy - because of Jesus' sacrifice! If we seek Him, serve Him, and sense Him - we will BE REAL in our spiritual walk.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Introduction: I asked everyone to hold there purse or wallet and imagine someone else handing it to their "next of kin" because you're dead and don't need it anymore. Here are three introductory truths I shared. 1) The single biggest indicator of lack of faith is the denial of the fact that we are going to die. Because we don't live like we believe it. 2) The foundation of faith is the belief that there is more to us than this physical life! There is nothing more real than death and nothing more important than our soul. 3) Everyone who has every lived has died! Bible characters, historical people, and famous people. All just like us! Some cultural myths about death vs. God's Truth!
1. It's predetermined vs. it's undetermined. World says it's fate, luck, or "numbers up" - almost predestination. The physical elements of life are choice, the fact we're mortal (dying), accidental and intentional death. We add to that the spiritual elements = God's will, which includes the natural (He created) and the providential (He intervenes).
2. Avoidable vs. Unavoidable - Heb.9:27 says is unavoidable!
3. Fear vs. Fearless - God/Love takes away the fear 1 Jn.4:16-18
4. The End vs. The Beginning - 1 Thess.4:13-18 even early Christians had a hard time with that.
5. Ultimate Loss vs. Ultimate Win! World says to die is to lose, God says it's to gain (Phil.1:21) and a victory (1 Cor.15:51-57) At death we receive every spiritual blessing the physical can't have - and we call it losing?
Conclusion: Be Real - nothing reveals how genuine our walk with Jesus is like how we feel about death. We're going to Disney World! I starting planning and preparing back in January. If you want to go, that's what you have to do - start taking the steps! Want heaven? Start taking the steps that get you there. Start seeking God!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Watching these little pre-schoolers get up there and perform was very touching. Of course, some were more hams than others, but all were sweet.
At the risk of sounding non-PC, it sure seems that little girls are a lot more comfortable on stage than little boys. I don't even want to speculate why.
Here is the amazing Children's minister and director of the play talking to the audience at the end. They are all "hearing unimpaired" but that doesn't keep Donna from talking with her hands. Have I said how awesome she is?
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Introduction: I used the final scene from "Saving Private Ryan" where 50 years after the war, Ryan is in France at the grave of Capt. John Miller, one of several men who died to try and get him home to his mother. Miller's dying words were"Earn this" and now Ryan asks his wife if he has. She tells him he's a good man. So just what is a good person? In Romans 5:7-8, Jesus died for us because we were "no good" to make us good. The world's definition of good is not God's. We talk about people being "basically good" or "mostly good" but good is good - not basically, partly, almost, or sometimes. God's creation was good - not basically good. God is good - not sometimes good, but all the time good - period!
The problem is that there are multiple definitions and uses for good. I shared all thirteen dictionary definitions of good and they don't even include slang. And "goodness is the state or quality of being good" - so what in the world is it? Which definition are you using.
1. In the world, goodness is a relative term.
A. Like labels - it all depends on the starting point! Are you a good person? Church people are always good people -right? Good compared to crooks & perverts? Compared to other Christians? What about compared to Jesus?
B. We have a vision problem? 2 Cor.4:4 blinded by the god of this world.
C. We have a sin problem? Eph.5:1-10 lost our focus on Jesus
2. In the Lord, goodness is an absolute term!
A. Only One is good (i.e. Best) Matthew 19:16-26
B. Our job is to choose good (i.e. the better) Luke 10:38-42
C. Only then can we be called "good" by God. Matt.25:14-30
Conclusion: Real goodness is being real about seeking Jesus! Staying close to the One who is good! Sign at convenience store at Halloween "Remove your mask before you enter!" Need to know if it's a real costume or a robber! Are we real seekers or robbers stealing the appearance of goodness?
Friday, November 30, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Introduction: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the whole year. I grew up with it being important to our family. I still remember having to miss Thanksgiving when I went off to Georgia Christian in the seventh grade at the ripe old age of thirteen. That was a sad Thanksgiving for me. But it is a memorial feast, to remember our blessings, and not unlike the Jewish feasts of old or even the agape feasts of the new. Still, our view of thanksgiving is impacted by our culture and traditions. Here are some simple thoughts about the worldly vs. the godly view of thankfulness.
1. Thanksgiving is a holiday, but giving thanks is a way of life! (or should be)
A. It's hard to commercialize thankfulness - it fosters contentment and good stewardship.
B. It gives us great priorities, like family, friends, and good food, but it must be a heart matter not just an event.
C. Thanksgiving is the way Christians choose to look at life! Makes us spiritual adults. Look at 1 Thess.5:16-18 and see what God expects us to always do!
2. Thanksgiving is not just gladness and appreciation! (Dogs & cats can do that!)
A. It's a matter of building character. Character is controlling and defining needs. We always seek a higher value in life because we are seeking God.
B. Our Thanksgiving is recognizing and seeking God - our greatest choice!
C. It's all part of our journey in Him. 2 Cor.4:4-15
3. Thanksgiving (the heart not the holiday) is the foundation upon which every spiritual quality rests (and grows).
A. Faith comes from what you tell yourself. Thanksgiving is what you tell yourself!
B. Each fruit of the Spirit rests on being thankful - Gal.5:22-23
C. Thanksgiving is relationship cement! It holds together and builds every relationship from marriage and friendships to God and Jesus and His church. Relationships don't die when we choose to be thankful! We choose it and cause it! Look at 2 Cor.9:6-15 and think about how what we do causes others to be thankful. It's never just me being thankful!
Conclusion: Being real is being thankful. Being real must be a full time job. It's time to stop being part time with Jesus.
Monday, November 26, 2007
This is Curtis and Mom & Dad arriving home Friday morning. He was unimpressed with his reception committee.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
A. Nothing defines our true character like what makes us happy. What does it tell us about our character. Happiness is a huge subject, but the simplified definition I give it is Happiness is basically fulfilling a need!
B. Our character comes from controlling & defining our needs. What are needs and what are wants? We all have physical, emotional, psychological, & spiritual needs - God given, but each can be ignored, neglected, or abused. Control = balance; Define = priorities! We must keep our balance in each, and be guided by proper priorities.
C. The world says "If it makes you happy, do it!" The MYTH is Happiness is all about ME! The IRONY is that we KNOW it's a lie, but lack of character makes us "Buy the Lie!" We buy it with two lies of our own: First, it's not so bad to be a little out of balance, and second, it's not so bad to have flexible priorities! We don't have values, we have restrictions! Does Rev.3:15-17 make you squirm?
D. Young people have such a hard time because it's the time in life when they are determining balance & priorities. It's always when they "Buy the Lie," especially the "It's not so bad" lies.
E. The truth about happiness is it's not about ME! Happiness is seeking God's balance & priorities and finding real joy!
1. Godly joy is nothing like worldly happiness!
A. Compare what world says to each of the "blessings" Jesus discussed in Matt.5:3-10. I contrasted each one.
B. God's balance and priorities = blessed = joy!
2. Godly joy is nothing like worldly happiness because they produce two completely different results.
A. Gal.5:19-21 "...those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God"
B. vs.22-23 Aren't these what we really want and need?
C. vs.24-25 Clear balance & priorities: "crucified passions and desires" = balance; "live by the Spirit" = priorities
Conclusion: What makes you happy? Relationships teach us that happiness is a bi-product of making others happy. Giving! Happens in life's school w/ family, friends, marriage, parenting, church family, etc. - learn the joy of giving. Real faith is making God happy - even if no one knows about it! His balance & priorities are always blessed. Look at Psalms 1 again.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The ring, in The Lord of the Rings, provided me with a great illustration of how things can be given way too much focus in our life (excluding all mystical powers of course). Achan, in Joshua 7, is a good example of someone being pulled by possessions with disastrous results for himself, his family, and all his other possessions. Solomon's wisdom, in Eccl.5:10-20, provided again the concept of balance, because he declared things a gifts from God to be enjoyed but not something to love and focus on. That's really the point isn't it? Things are only things! To love things is to get our priorities out of balance and even become guilty of idolatry. Here are some of the simple points about things that I shared in this lesson.
1. Things may bring moments of happiness, but not joy!
A. There is a huge difference between a thrill and contentment. In Phil.4:11ff, Paul said the secret what not a What, but Who!
B. Ask yourself some tough questions when you're seeking things. 1. Will it feel good or build good? 2. Am I seeking stimulation or improvement (esp. when shopping)? 3. Is this driven by wisdom or weakness?
C. Be Real: Does Jesus want us to have happiness or joy? Moments or life? Why do we keep pursuing happiness, especially when in Him we can fine eternal joy?
2. Things build ego not character!
A. i.e. the Rich Young Ruler, Luke 18:18-25, Jesus saw his heart.
B. Ego is driven by what we want others to think about us! Character is being real about pleasing God! (Even if no one else sees it!)
C. Be Real: Ego is superficial stuff! Character is integrity of the heart!
3. Things distract rather than clarify our focus!
A. i.e. the soils, Matt.13:22 = thorny ground was shallow, easily distracted by things.
B. Is it true that "It's more blessed to give than to receive"? Jesus said it is Acts 20:35
C. Be Real: Distraction of things is a huge reason why so many are half-hearted about seeking Jesus. Just look at how higher gas prices effects how we view our economy, our country, and our abundant blessings!
4. Things are temporary!
A. They rust, rot, and ruin! Them and us! Matt.6:19-21
B. Seen sign "Temporarily Out of Order"? Need signs on everything that read "Temporarily Working" because that's always true!
C. Be Real: How many things have you actually worn out? (Not counting underwear and socks)
5. Things become our master!
A. Didn't plan on it or want it, but obsession created it!
B. Matt. 6:24 Jesus was clear - CAN'T have two masters!
C. Be Real: The reason Jesus isn't your Master is there is no room in your heart for two masters!
Conclusion: I love The Lord of The Rings movies! I have all three. After seeing them several times, it dawned on me that it really could be called The Ring Is Lord!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
In the story of the wealthy farmer, in Luke 12:15-21, Jesus is very clear about what worldly success is. This guy was all about possessions, abundance, bigger & better, security and easy living. Jesus said he was a fool! Death would own him that very night so what are all those things worth? His point was that we need to be rich toward God. That's godly success. So there's the conflict - worldly success vs. godly success - a problem for us all.
1. What is Worldly Success? (The list is long, but I picked out four.)
A. Impressing others = the "Wow Factor!"
B. Greed = "beware of all kinds of greed" like recognition, respect, power, winning, and just possessing things.
C. Temporary Toys = things that don't last or bring real quality or better relationships.
D. Ignoring the Ruby Slippers! Forgetting that we always have the ability to go home and refocus on the soul. Matt.16:26
2. What is Godly Success? Simply being rich towards God.
A. Honestly Seek Him - Heb.11:6; Phil.3:7-11
B. Lovingly Serve Him - serving is what those who love each other do!
C. Truly Sense Him - His presence is real. See all three in Acts 17:27-28
3. Which kind of success do we want as a church?
A. Are we about possessions, abundance, bigger & better, security, easy living?
B. Are we "Honest to God" in our desire to have a relationship with Him?
The rest of the lesson is roughly in the last blog. The shepherd's challenged the whole congregation to join then in a journey to find out what it means to BE REAL as individuals and as a church family.
Conclusion: In the hands of God!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
We had the biggest Trunk or Treat night ever this past Wednesday. After talking to John (The Head Cook) Young, and heard about how many hog dogs, chili, and popcorn was eaten, I feel we easily had between eight hundred and a thousand people come through the facilities. It was so wonderful to see so many folks from our community coming by to enjoy our alternative to Halloween and to see them truly appreciate the things we did for them. I really like the idea of something like Halloween being taken away from any ownership of Satan and used as an opportunity to share, have fun, and let people see a church family in action. And of course, one of the best things about it was all the kids getting to meet Dorothy as they walked in to enjoy the games or get some food. Donna is THE BEST ever kids greeter. She's an awesome Nana to our special four (soon to be five), but she's really a universal Nana to every child. She loves to see kids smile and learn things about God. Hundreds of children learned many Bible stories from her as they enjoyed her toddlers class through the years.
This is a visiting family getting the Dorothy/Donna treatment. She handed out the glow necklaces to the kids and they really loved it. Most people didn't even know she's been sick with allergies and colds-yuck-stuff all week too. I am very proud of all the hard work so many of our folks did that night. Of course, I'm partial to Dorothy - after all, there really is "no place like home."
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The other day I was sitting up high in my tree stand, watching the fall color explosion more than looking for deer, and I had a metaphorical vision about life. We all know and are familiar with comparing the seasons of the year to the seasons of life, but have you ever just thought about a leaf. A single leaf, clinging to a branch like all the other leaves, and yet unique in ways that the naked eye can't easily detect. All of them start out the same. Shiny, green, and strong. Some don't make it through the storms of life before they get ripped loose and fall back to the earth. The comparisons are endless and any metaphor will fall apart if you try to make TOO MUCH of it, but I was truly touched by one particular thought. Isn't it interesting that so many leaves reach their peak of beauty at the end of their life. Just before being disconnected, they are bright yellows, gorgeous reds, and vibrant orange, and they give joy to the world around them. Then they're gone. Back to the place that gave them life in the first place.
I want to be like that, don't you? I want aging to be my peaking not my dying. I want to bring joy to the world around me, and then return to the One who gave it all to me.
That gives all new meaning to the old joke, "Make like a tree and leave" doesn't it?
Friday, October 26, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Myth America Contest: Myth Image
I used Forrest Gump as a good example of someone who was not driven by image. And his famous "box of chocolates" line is a perfect illustration of something that is good, but can be bad if we eat too much. Image, like chocolate, is not bad until we get it out of balance. Most of life's problems come from our in ability to control our drives, desires, and limitations. Food, drink, drugs, sex, and most everything we enjoy in life are God-given, but we can't seem to keep them when and where God intended. Our image is something to care about, but we must grow up, mature, deepen our values, and at some point, care more about the image of Christ than we do our own.
1. The Problem of Acceptance (Wanting to be liked)
A. "Love one another" means it's good to be liked by others - but not required!
B. Loving yourself must never depend on being liked by others. That's how peer pressure gets it's power in our lives. (Look at what it caused Herod and Pilate to do.)
C. One of my all time favorite quotes, "You wouldn't care so much about what others thought about you if you knew how little they did it." Are we paranoid or egotistical in thinking people are looking at us so much?
D. Faith is seeking to please God first! Heb.11:6; Matt.6:33
2. The Problem of Conforming (Changing to be liked)
A. Fit in but don't sell out! We all observe others and adjust ourselves to be liked and accepted, but don't let that control you. Be who God made you to be. Celebrate your uniqueness! Have convictions, values, and self worth! People respect that and you admire those who have them. Joseph's brothers are good examples of people who didn't like uniqueness.
B. We are all changing! Getting older is changing, so why do older people resent change so much? Maybe we're changing into something other than Jesus.
C. Romans 12:2 challenges us. Are you conforming or transforming? It's all about choosing Jesus over the world! As a church, do we expect transformation or conforming? Become like US or like Jesus?
3. The Problem of Self Absorption (Obsessed with self, and wanting everyone else to be obsessed with you too!)
A. How important is "Image Management" to you? All do it some, but some do it all! How did you decide what to wear today? The only thing I have? This is what's clean and modest? This is what's comfortable? This is what's acceptable and expected? This makes me look good?
B. Obsession with self is ego, pride, and pleasure NOW! Work, family, marriage, and church are all about you? Phil.3:15-21 some early Christians had the same problem.
C. Image is idolatry! The worship of self! (Actually, imbalanced image!) Romans 1:24-25 worship of creature rather than Creator!
D. Image is idolatry for the church too - if it's more important to look good to the world than to God! Are we more interested in acceptance and conforming to what the world says we should be and look like? Are we guilty of self absorption? What really is church growth?
It's time to BE REAL and forget our image! We need to be real about looking like Jesus. Sounds like a good reason for an Image Makeover to me!
Monday, October 22, 2007
One of the hardest things about being "in season" is reminding yourself to keep practicing. We don't have the privacy around our house I'd like to have in order to practice without making the neighbors nervous. This is our neighbors house, about 15 feet away from ours, but it gives me a little hidden lane to take a few quick shots at times of the day when no one is around. I'm shooting towards the pond behind our house - not the kids who play back there occasionally.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
* Do you focus on what you can't do anymore or on what God has empowered you to do now?
* Have you retired or been reassigned?
* Are you productive or pouting (feeling sorry for yourself because you're getting old)?
* We will never be younger than we are right now!
* The only exception is spiritual living, because the more you mature the healthier you become! How's that for a great thing to think about ? To God, we are always His children.
1. The Myth of Youth is the myth of external beauty!
A. To be young or look young is beautiful? That kind of thinking is shallow, selfish, and sin seeking not God seeking?
B. What do we really want? Attention, admirers, people jealous, or lusting over us?
C. We need to redefine beauty to match God's definition of beauty! 1 Sam.16:7; 1 Peter 3:1-4
2. The Myth of Youth is the myth of "better days." Everything was better when we were younger!
A. We suffer from selective memory. There were wonderful times, but not all of it!
B. Remember insecurities? Fears? Ignorance? Twisted priorities? Weakness? Lack of self control? Just to name a few.
C. There is nothing better than NOW! (Eccl.9:7-10)
3. The Myth of Youth is the myth of long life! The younger you are, or think you are, the farther away death must be! Wrong!
A. The older you get, the harder it is to ignore death, but it's a step away from everyone.
B. We must remember that we don't deserve anything! Every day is a blessing and a gift that many others didn't get to have.
C. If you are still fearful of death, what have you been doing all these years as a Christian? Not preparing! Not growing in your walk with God? (Eccl.12:13-14)
4. The Myth of Youth is the myth of significance! You only count if you're young!
A. Only to those who are selfish or full of self pity! Poor me!
B. If thankfulness grows w/ age, who should be the most thankful people on earth?
C. Praise God for every wrinkle and gray hair! They proclaim to all how wonder God has been to us to let us live long enough to have them! They are our badge of blessing! Our promotion stripes! Our crown that most people never got to wear!
D. Older Christians are significant, not because they are alive, but because of what they have to offer. Thankfulness! Years of walking with God! Loving relationships! Learning to give not receive! Learning that God is right! Where else will the young learn these things - from other young people?
Conclusion: Ask Moses which part of his 120 years was the most important? How long did it take to get him ready to be used by God! So, how many burning bushes do you deserve?
Monday, October 15, 2007
A friend at church sent us this picture. The caption was "What to wear when your wife wants you to do the chores."
I've been tripled tagged so I guess I better do something about it. For those who tagged me, I wasn't ignoring you, but according to the rules I'm supposed to tag eight more people and I don't know eight more blogs that haven't already been tagged. I didn't want to be the one to break the chain and cause catastrophic events, prove to be unloving, unpatriotic, unfaithful, or be cursed for the next seven years. So, here are my eight unusual things about me (I can't say unknown, because they've probably all been sermon illustrations at some time in the past.)
1. I am paranoid about spelling. Praise God for spell-check. I'm mostly paranoid that everyone else in my family are all incredible spellers and don't have to think twice about any word. I avoid names and places especially because I'm afraid of misspealling thim!
2. Of all my Rootisms and thought provoking wise saying, the hardest one for me to remember to say to myself - several times a day - is "It really doesn't matter." It's my biggest defense against, as Elizabeth says, being annal retentive! (Did I spell that right?)
3. While we did use Bible names for our children, the toughest part was coming up with their middle names. All three names came from relatives.
4. I am totally comfortable with my age and thankful for every day God has given me, but the biggest thing I miss about the "old days" is being able to sing well. I'm talking way back before botox-shots time.
5. After a battery of psychological tests for Harding's mission internship program in 1972, the counsellor said I was "Very honest. Very stable. Very extrovert." And that was all he said.
6. My mother is still one of the most intelligent women I've ever known in my life.
7. If I were starting over again, I wouldn't be a full time minister. I'd be in vocational ministry of some form. I love ministry and preaching and can't imagine doing anything else, but I'd truly love to be self supporting some how.
8. When I was a kid in school, I thought my middle name Rand was so corny that I told people it was Randy. Later I liked having my mothers maiden name as my middle name.
So there they are. Just the first eight things I thought about on a Monday morning when I skipped going hunting because of potential rain that turned out to be late and wouldn't have arrived until after my hunting time. Oops, is that number nine?
Friday, October 12, 2007
A friend of ours sent us this picture today. I'm confident the Ford will fly - aren't you?
This morning I snuck off and went hunting. I couldn't wait! It has been so warm that it wasn't worth even trying and a third of October is already gone! So when this cool front came through this week, I finished up everything on Thursday so I could get away for a few hours this morning. And it was cold not cool. The bank sign down in Sullivan said 35 degrees when I passed it at 6 AM. I wasn't wearing enough and ended up shivering for the first couple hours. But hey, such is hunting. I had a little six point buck feed under my stand for about ten minutes, totally oblivious to the predator just above him in spitting range. It was fun watching him. He was so young and so stupid, as most one and a half year old's are, but he won't stay that way for long. I couldn't help but wonder how many times in my fifty-six years I've been as close to my death as that deer was today - and, like him, been totally oblivious of it? It probably completely dwarfs the number of "close calls" that I'm aware of. Did God intervene? Was I just lucky? It really doesn't matter. I praise Him and thank Him for every day He has given me. I know in my heart that He protected me during many of my "young and so stupid" days. I believe He wanted me to share what He's taught me to others. Things that took time, a lot of questions and struggles, and a lot of experiences. Part of being older and wiser is seeing life's predators, and they have the best camo, weaponry, and tactics there is - and they work for the best predator of all - Satan. Remember, Peter called him a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. So dear brethren, keep an eye on those trees!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
1. The Myth of Compatibility = if we are so alike we will be so close! Compatibility doesn't always build closeness. Sometimes it fosters competitiveness, comparing, and it's boring. We weren't made to be alike, but to like how we are made different. It's not about shared interests, it's about shared values. Love is not chemistry, it's a choice. 1 Cor.13:4-8 are choices, just as loving God is a choice.
2. The Myth of Conformity = "I want someone who will become what I want them to be." I call this the "They'll Change Syndrome". NO relationship will work where people think about controlling, molding, or training their mate. Relationship building is about giving not taking - or making! Eph.5:21-25 describes it as submitting and being like Christ, but this is about what we must be not what we must force "them" to be.
3. The Myth of Continuity = the fantasy of "the eternal honeymoon". The problem free marriage never existed and most young people are totally unprepared for the reality of working through relationship problems. After all - they have chemistry! BUT, do they have commitment? It's working through the problems that deepens a relationship and the love. That's why the Bible talks in terms of effort, work, and seeking - even in spiritual relationships. It's what we decide it will be - look a 1 Thess.5:12-18 and apply it to marriage!
Would you say that our "Chemistry" with God is strong? He made us in His image! If it was about chemistry, we'd ALL be as close as angels to God! It's about choices and commitments and love that grows through trials and tough times. That's why "love covers a multitude of sins," - not because of a chemical formula, but a committed faith.
This coming Sunday I'll be taking a look a Myth Youth. The subtitle is "Get the Wrinkles out!" (If you are one of those who download the lessons from the web page, be aware that our recorder crashed last week. They're making recording from the video tape and that will make each lesson be at least a week late. I'm hoping we get the new recorder in this week.)
Monday, October 08, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
This may not seem like much of a picture, but it's the view I looked at yesterday from my tree stand on the first day of my first IL bow season hunt. You can actually see part of my shadow in the fork of the tree's shadow. There are several well-worn deer trails coming out of those woods as well as some obvious trails under the stand of trees I'm in. It's at the top of a hill about 250 yards from a neighbor's corn and bean fields. It's got a beautiful view in all directions - when you look around all the leaves that are still there.
This is the view behind my stand, looking down the hill. My bow and arrow are hanging on a bow hanger just to the right of the picture. That's actually a valley that drops off to the left going down to a pond and the crop fields. Danny (my hunting buddy) Younger was in a stand up the draw to the right of this picture. He saw several does, and from all the snorting I heard, a couple of them at least smelled him. Unfortunately, the wind changed on us and blew down the hill as the deer came out. I saw some of the deer that came by Danny, and three more on the distant hill in the next picture.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
1. If you don't communicate you speculate. Maybe one of my most profound statements because it is so true of any and all relationships.
2. Grace is not about perfection but direction. I've heard others say the exact same thing, but I truly said it after studying 1 John almost twenty years ago.
3. If what you're doing is not giving, then what you're doing isn't worship. Still said almost weekly.
4. A Christian can't go to worship any more than a fish can go for a swim. (Living sacrifice, Rom.12:1) I just like it!
5. Prayer is our blood mark on the door frame! Think about it.
6. Life is all about who you love and who loves you back.
7. The greatness of a person is not measured by his talents, but by what discourages him. I didn't say it, but I can't remember who did - so it's mine! I love it!
8. Spiritual integrity is pleasing God when no one is around.
9. There is no passion for the lost when there is no passion for being saved. Ouch!
10. My favorite Rootism - not for the sensitive: He who is full of himself, is in need of a good laxative.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Funny stuff aside, let's talk about marriage and divorce. Second thought, it's too big a subject for a blog, but I have a more specific question about why churches keep feeling like they have to sit in judgment on people's marital history. I hear horror stories all the time of elders forbidding membership, and worse, baptism to people who don't agree to correct their "unscriptural marital situations." That is sooo wrong and so un-Christ-like, that I have to fight the anger I feel burning inside just thinking about it!
Frankly, there is nothing that we've adopted from Catholicism that drives our thinking, interpreting, and our traditions, like the sacramental elevation of marriage to a church approved, sponsored, and policed activity (except maybe the Lord's Supper, but that's another subject for another time). Sure, the Bible clearly teaches that God's plan was one man and one woman for life, but where's the wedding and the legal agreements? Where's the description of why divorce so much more a "biggy sin" than any other transgression of God's will. Yes, He hates divorce, but He hates pride, greed, and coveting. Where's the historical inquisition about these sins? If God's plan is so immutable, who gave Moses the right to change it - yet Jesus said he did it because of the "hardness of your heart." Since when does that change God's commands? Someone explain why there is no condemnation for the multiple wives that nearly every patriarch and king in the Old Testament had? And what's with the handmaids and concubines thing? Remember what it took to get the twelve tribes started? Why wasn't David condemned for being unfaithful to his wife - I mean wives - and not just for taking another man's possession? If in the Gospels, Jesus was spelling out the guidelines for marriage and divorce, rather than pointing the Jewish people back to God's original laws, why is it never restated by the rest of the New Testament writers, who had rampant divorce in every congregation that was established?
So what am I saying? Nothing new. God still hates divorce, but not because it's some sacred institution, but because it's violating a promise - a covenant, and that's always sinful. There is no such thing as a scriptural divorce in the Post-resurrection biblical teaching. There is also no exception to the call to forgive. Marriage was probably always more of a social contract than we want to believe - especially since we are so far removed from arranged/transaction oriented marriages than they were in Bible times. There is too much of marriage and divorce that is heart-to-God stuff for anyone or group to sit in judgment or try to apply some legalistic requirements. Churches (congregations of Christians) need to be in the marriage strengthening business not the condemnation business. "Love covers a multitude of sin" - some would say, even murder and fornication, but for some reason, not divorce? That's ludicrous, and no more encourages people to get a divorce than forgiveness for murder encourages more murders. How many times would Jesus say, "Go your way and sin no more"? Yes, it's time to drop the stones and get on with helping other have a deeper relationship with Him.