Thursday, September 27, 2007

Top Ten Rootisms

I was going to wait until Friday to do this week's Top Ten, but tomorrow is going to be so incredibly beautiful - weather-wise, that I don't trust myself to be inside long enough to do a blog. So, as mentioned, I'm putting together a list of Rootisms for this week's Top Ten. With no suggestions offered from those who've had to hear them regularly through the years, here are my favorite Top Ten Rootisms.
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

Covenants, Catholics, & Concubines?

Wonderful picture sent to me from a friend (JV) and should send fear into the hearts of any parent!

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.

Friday, September 21, 2007

One Picture, One Year, One Question

Someone emailed me this picture. The caption was, "How can you identify a Redneck with a DUI?"

This is my 125 post and also the anniversary of when I began this blog. Wow, a whole year already! Is time going faster or is my brain overwhelmed with so much stuff to do that it just seems to go faster? The answer is obvious. Anyway, I've been playing "catch-up" so much from being gone to Colorado last week that I haven't taken the time to think of a good TopTen for this week. I'm thinking about one for next week though - my Top Ten Rootisms. I've got quite a list to chose from. Any suggestions?

So here's my thought of the week: If faith is not sight, does sight mean it's not faith? If that's true, did Jesus have faith? Sounds like blasphemy doesn't it? If prayer is an act of faith, when Jesus prayed, was it faith or communication? You see, faith is bigger than just not seeing God. Even with those we see we have to "have faith" that we can trust them, believe them, and they listen and care. Faith isn't the absence of knowledge but a form of knowledge. As "I think" becomes "I know," it's just faith that is growing. Still, you know that Jesus never said or thought, "I think God is real." He not only knew God, had been with God, He was God! (Trinity) He never entered into prayer feeling, "Father, I sure hope you're there and you're listening." He had faith and sight. He was incapable of doubting. There were no "ifs" or "maybes" in his relationship with His Father any more than you and I can question whether or not we have/had a physical father. What does that teach us? I don't know - I just like to throw out things to make people think! Actually, it reminds me that my journey to be like Jesus must include an absolute awareness of the presence of a real and loving Father. There will be a time when faith and hope won't exist - only love will. Maybe that's where Jesus was when He was flesh and blood. He didn't need faith - He had love.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sometimes, Bigger is Bigger

I've mentioned several times that I'm troubled by how we've "bought in" to the cultural definition of church growth. I truly wonder what Jesus would say about our slick "Protestant Mass" that we've developed through the centuries and have used to define ourselves, promote our perspective, and emphasize the external? Yes, we have a religion of the assembly. Assemblies require facilities and the bigger the facility the bigger the assembly - and presto! We have a "successful mega-church" and we can glory in our accomplishment. No new souls have been saved, but the smaller, less innovative congregations in town have had their membership sucked away from them and we are now "experts in church growth," ready to hold worshops.
That's way-more sarcastic and negative than I really feel. I say it to ask myself "So what?" Do I really know what I'm doing? Do I have a clear sense of purpose or am I simply comfy as "a man of the cloth?" I keep seeing the Good Shepherd going after that one who wandered away and letting the ninety-nine stay put and graze awhile. I wonder if Jesus wouldn't define church growth as "one sheep being brought back"- one reason to make angels rejoice.
How do I know if I'm doing my job? Do I check the pew counting on the back of the church bulletin before I declare it "a good week?" No, I have three goals. I've mentioned them before. Am I guiding and encouraging everyone to SEEK a deeper relationship with God and Jesus? If not, we're just playing church. Am I challenging everyone to SERVE Him and learn to give, love, and obey? If not, we're just doing house-keeping. Am I helping everyone SENSE His presence, to know that He's there wherever they are and He's real? If not, there is no growing - no matter what the attendance chart declares. And if it's only one person who seeks, serves, and senses His abiding presence - well, that's a mega church to God.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Another Colorado Hunt Is History

A 2007 sunrise in Colorado. It never gets old to me. God's creation is so awesome no matter where you are, but there is just something very special about those Rocky Mountains - and this is the western slope, not the biggies with the aspens and spruce and timber-line. Even in the middle of chasing elk, I had to stop and notice God's alarm clock!
This was after a morning hunt and it was still a little chilly. Much of the hunt this year was T-shirt weather, but we did have pretty cool mornings.
This is the famous "Prairie Chicken" which is really a grouse. They fed under my tree stand, which I only hunting from in the evenings. I had it at the pond below, and the mulies came in every night, but they were usually all does or small bucks - and too far away. There are three young bucks in the group.

From my stand, which because it was below the pond, was actually only about five feed above the pond. It's a 32 yard shot to the far edge of the pond in the middle of this picture. The closest deer is about 45 yards away. The last two nights I used a ground blind in the brush just off picture to the left. Unfortunately the bucks never came back - after walking by that spot three nights in a row. Such is hunting!

Is that a killer face or what! It was a lot of fun sharing the hunt with Danny, as well as my usual buddies, Kevin and Brian Haugh. We had a blast! Laughed a lot, ate too much, drove atv's like teenagers, and hunted like wild men. We didn't even say "Excuse me" when we...

This was after our last morning hunt - Thursday. I spent two and a half hours running up the mountain with the elk - crawling at times and on my knees in the rocks several times. I was reminded that I'm not 40 and that I really like having an atv to go up and down those mountains when the hunting is done.
We had a wonderful time. Saw lots of animals, did a lot of hunting w/o killing, which is the nature of bowhunting most of the time, and had some great fellowship, but I'm glad to be back home. Besides, the Missouri bowhunting season opened today so I've already missed the first day. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers. It was a long 17 hour drive home yesterday. God is good.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Locked and Loaded

The trailer is loaded and ready for the road. Tomorrow morning, early, Danny Younger and I leave for Colorado and our quest to chase mule deer and elk around the mountains. It's been twenty-one years since I first started my "annual once in a life time trip" to Meeker, CO. It's still a high point of the whole year for me. I'm really looking forward to showing beautiful CO to Danny, who has never been there before, and to introducing him to western bow hunting. Of course, it helps to have the ATV's to take us up the mountains rather than run up and down them like I use to do. So, keep us in your prayers that all goes well - from safe travel to safe hunting. And, no, I will not have access to a computer while there. This will be the only blog you will see until we return next Saturday. Lord willing I will have some great pictures to share - hopefully some with antlers in them! Hope your week is as fun as mine will be. God bless.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Game of Church

We finally made it to a Cardinals game in the new stadium. And truthfully, we'd probably miss another year if someone hadn't graciously given us their tickets. Neat stadium - neat game, especially since the Cards won. I was struck again by the ironic unity of tens of thousands of total strangers. The focus was on Cardinal baseball, and no one cared about all the differences there were between the people attending. There's a lesson there somewhere, but I was (again) amazed with the fact that relationships were not expected, desired, or built - in any form - it was all about enjoying the game. Yes, it made me think about church, or at least what our tradition and culture has turned it in to. For many people, assembling with the saints has nothing to do with connecting with family and deepening relationships. They don't expect it, desire it, or make any effort to do it. It's worldly church not Christ's church - despite whatever name may be on the sign out front. Why is it so hard for so many to "get it"? Too many years of disconnected, passive, ritualistic, external church-going, peer-righteousness that makes giving, investing in others, and discovering the love God says can only be discovered by one-"anotherness" - unimportant and non-essential. That's more than unbiblical, it's Satanic - because he knows he wins every time we "go to church" instead of go to give! When getting together is about building up others, encouraging, confessing, thanking, and praying - it's always a home run. That kind of consistency is far more important than being metaphorically consistent! Next time someone complains about meeting with their church family, tell'em to "go to help!" (Say that fast three time.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Teachers and Pictures

Sunday morning we took a few minutes to honor some of our Bible class coordinators/teachers who have truly put in a lot of years at Florissant. They represent about 80 years of service in this important ministry that teaches God's message to our children. One of our shepherd's, Barry, and our Children's minister, Donna, did the honors and also introduced the new coordinators. The shepherd's who were present then put their hands on then and offered a prayer of thanks for them all.
It just reminded me again about how important teachers are. We are so use to having them and even being one ourselves, that we forget how huge a teacher's impact is on the lives of those being taught. If we made a list of the people who had the greatest life-changing impact on us, after our parents, we'd all certainly have several teachers on the list. Thank God for the people He placed in your life who made you what you are today. I certainly do.

Monday morning visitors to our pond out back. This is a different doe and fawn then the ones we've seen in the past. I suspect that the harvesting of the corn in the fields behind our house has caused them to move a little more. But - it also reminds me that the Missouri archery season begins in two week. The day we get back from hunting in Colorado. Then IL opens on Oct.1. Oh I love this time of year!