1. It seems that there is nothing more futile than seeking real clarity on political issues. I’m not sure if this is because our world is now so complex that it defies simplicity of explanation or because it benefits a few to keep us all divided. I do know that when we have reached a point where we assume that our opponents motives are evil that there is little hope for progress or reconciliation.
2. I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed last week and came across a picture from a gay couple in fond embrace. My initial reaction was surprising revulsion. I can have sympathy with ideas of toleration, but there is something in my soul that says some things are just wrong. There, I said it out loud…
3. I am a political liberal. Most of my friends are political conservatives. They are decent, intelligent, generous, godly, and kind. Our differences are about ideas, not reflections of our character. Maybe if we change the names we are calling each other, we can find solutions that match them…
4. Someone besides me needs to hear this passage this morning; “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”(Galatians 6:9–10 ESV)
5. I was amazed at how smart my cat was until I realized that she will play endlessly with a piece of string that’s obviously dangling from my hand. Then I went and watched my Twitter feed and realized I’m not so bright myself…
6. If we would have had the internet and social media of today in 1968, this country would have imploded at the hands of conspiracy theorists and prophecy wonks. There was an unpopular war,a national election, racial riots burning down parts of major cities, and two historic political assassinations. Sometimes it helps to get some perspective…
7. When I was younger, fall was my favorite season. Now, it just speaks of the inevitability of winter. I’m not doing this aging thing well…
8. Smartphones and tablets are the needles that deliver the drug of distraction. We are all becoming addicts…
9. Political and theological issues were once debated for hours or even days at a time in the public square…and people listened to both sides to make decisions. Now, we debate things on Twitter in 140 characters or less and wonder why no one understands the issues.
10. Nursing homes and funeral homes were created so we wouldn’t have to deal with reality in our own homes.
In your presence, in our seasons of ache and yearning and honesty, we know our right names.
In your presence we know ourselves to be aliens and strangers.
We gasp in recognition, taken by surprise at this disclosure, because we had nearly settled in and taken up residence in the wrong place.
For all of that, we turn out to be we strangers, unfamiliar with your covenant, remote from your people, at odds too much with sisters and brothers,we aliens, with no hope without promise with very little sense of belonging or knowing or risking or trusting, It is in your presence that we come face to face with our beset, beleaguered existence in the world.
BUT You are the one who by your odd power calls us by new names that we can receive only from you and relish only in your company.
You call us now, citizens … with all the rights and privileges and responsibilities pertaining to life in your commonwealth.
You call us now saints, not because we are good or gentle or perfect, but because you have spotted us and marked us and claimed us for yourself and your purposes.
You call us members … and we dare imagine that we belong and may finally come home.
So with daring and freedom,we move from our old names known too well to the new names you speak over us, and in the very utterance we are transformed.
In the moment of utterance and transformation, we look past ourselves and past our sisters and brothers here present.
And we notice so many other siblings broken, estranged, consumed in rage and shame and loneliness, much born of wretched economics.
We bid powerfully that you name afresh all your creatures this day, even as you name us afresh.
We pray for nothing more and nothing less than your name for us all, utterly new, restored heaven and earth.
And we will take our new names with us when we leave this place, treasuring them all day long, citizen, saint, member, even as we take with us the odd name of Jesus.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann Kindle Edition.
“Do you ever wonder if you believe in God just so you won’t go to hell”?
Being a good parent, I couldn’t just drop him off on the freeway and turn around and go home.
I did the next best thing and sped up so that we could arrive at our destination more quickly.
“How do you know that what we believe is true”?
We were pegging 80 on the freeway now…
“Will ___ go to hell”? He doesn’t believe in God”
Now, I’m hoping the airbags deploy spontaneously.
He is only 11 and he has already decided that his fathers faith is not sufficient, that his faith must be his own.
He wants answers…not so that he can reject the faith, but so he can embrace it and take ownership of it on his own.
I can give him the standard answers…the ones about the reliability of the text, about our common doubts and fears, about all the doctrines that combined make up the body of our faith.
They will not convince him.
When he was a bit younger he used to ask everyone he met whether they believed in God.
It mattered…he didn’t want anyone going to this hell he had heard of.
I told him that doing so was rude and impolite…that faith was a private matter.
Now he wonders why I don’t care if people are going to hell.
Shouldn’t we at least tell them?
The stock answers are insufficient, they are true, but they are words on paper repeated by rote.
They will not convince him because if you’re going to teach a child that a loved one may spend eternity in hell, you better do it with tears in your eyes.
If you are going to speak of the love of Jesus for a lost world, you’d better model it.
If you are going to speak of a sacrificial life you’d better live it.
That’s the only way the words have life…it’s the life that will convince him…one way or the other.
The messages my actions speak will determine the veracity of the Bible I carry.
A sermon is so much easier…
Make your own application…
Many years ago, WalMart was building a new store in our small town.
Before they opened, two representatives of the corporation stopped by the local pharmacy and informed the proprietor that he might as well close his doors now.
The size and buying power of the giant was going to put him out of business.
He informed them otherwise and showed them the door.
He weathered the storm…personal service and knowing your customer still mattered here.
Today, he is still in business and prospering, the WalMart is closed.
The following is a composite story happening all over the country.
The town is small and so are it’s churches.
Most of the churches have been there quite some time and the pastors have been faithful in serving though the ground is hard and the reward has been small.
Those pastors have no grandiose vision…no vision to be anything but faithful to those they have been called to serve in numbers many or few.
It is a difficult, holy, and noble calling.
In the larger town….twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy miles away, sits the mega church.
That pastor does have grandiose visions…his church is large, therefore he must be one of God’s special messengers.
He sees the little town as a “mission field” and though he would not speak it out loud, he thinks the faithful pastor is a failure.
Just look at the numbers…
The “special” one will go to the small town…not in person, mind you, but he will bring a video screen and perhaps some musicians and show them all how it’s really done.
He will pipe his face and his sermons in via that screen and his minions will provide coffee and comfortable seating.
This is called a “planting a church”.
What it really is could be described as “ecclesiastical imperialism”, “corporate arrogance”, or my preferred term, which is best left unwritten.
Many of these “church plants” will fail, but only after stripping some people from each of those faithful, small churches and making the struggle for those left behind that much more difficult.
Some will succeed, having convinced the shallow that bigger is better and a better show is all that matters.
God forbid that the anointed ones simply come alongside a work already there…or go to some place like South Dakota where they actually need new churches.
No, the ego of the great ones must dominate the whole area they dwell in and when that can’t contain them they must look beyond their borders for more.
This is a call to resistance, to see this trend for what it really is, which is nothing more than “ecclesiastical imperialism'”…a corporate takeover of the local church and all it stands for and provides to the local community.
Bigger is not necessarily better and the love of a local shepherd is infinitely more valuable than the ego of the religious celebrity.
Support your local church and tell the mega pastor to “plant this”.
1.“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19–21 ESV) I think we pick the ones that we don’t do out of this list and ignore the ones we do….and justify them with a veneer of holiness. Sexual sins are the easiest to avoid and the easiest to point out when they are made known. They are not the most dangerous…or common.
2. After three weeks of NFL football, I’m looking forward to hockey season. Go Kings!
3. Late one night when I was in Geneva, I was sitting by myself in St. Pierres Cathedral just allowing myself to be overwhelmed by the setting. After a while a very kind fellow struck up a conversation with me. He was a scholar and professor and after about five minutes it was evident that I was in way over my head as he talked about his particular field of theological research. I was completely lost and embarrassed….and recognizing that he took the time to explain himself in a way I could understand and appreciate. We ended up having a great conversation and I came away blessed by his knowledge and kindness. I came across some of his work online the other day…turns out he’s one of, if not the foremost, scholar in his native country. I learned again that humility is the mark of true greatness in the kingdom of God.
4. Remember the water supply you folks helped build in Mexico? It’s complete! Thank you…
5. We need to speak clearly. The Muslims will exterminate Christianity in the Middle East in the name of their religion unless God intervenes. I don’t give a rats rear end if thats politically incorrect or not.
6. One of the wisest things I was ever taught is that the Scriptures are a mirror to view your own sin in, not a microscope to find it in others. It’s important to use your tools properly…
7. Only in America does being a celebrity automatically infuse you with political and theological acumen. I just don’t get it…
8. There is more power to change your community in your local church than in your state legislature.
9. True Christianity is never a solitary venture…the faith was created to be lived in community. As Eugene Peterson said, “I can’t be me by myself”.
10. From the mouths of babes… The other day Trey said “Sometimes I think I believe in God just so I won’t go to hell”. I’ve failed to give him as many reasons to live for Christ as to die in Him. That…is grave error.
fearful of our world falling apart, in terror and moral decay,
fearful of too many “dangers, toils, and snares,”
fearful of not doing well, of being found out, of being left out, of being abandoned, of our own shadow.
Amid then we hear, astonishingly in the midst of our fearfulness, your mighty, “DO NOT FEAR”
do not fear, I am with you,
with you in wealth and in poverty,
with you in success and in failure,
with you for better or for worse.
We hear, we trust, we receive your comfort and are made new.
We thank you for the newness of our identity, of our trust, of our calling.
Because of your new utterance of life to us, we will not fear,though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.
We, your new people, thank you for your newness and notice that you work newness among us, for we know about being, lame people who walk, blind people who see, dead people who live, poor people who are unburdened.
We rally round your newness that is both our hope and our work.
Your fearless newness into which we are immersed is beyond our expectation;
But we are not offended by it; not scandalized by you; not ashamed of your newness; not embarrassed by your healings.
We ask now for energy and freedom, rooted in your fearlessness, that we may live toward and from and for your newness that bubbles up, even in the midst of us, all around us to the uttermost parts of the earth.
We pray in the name of your fearless gift of newness who scandalizes the world and makes all things new, even Jesus. Amen.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 94). Kindle Edition.
Janette Smith Manderson, the daughter of Pastor Chuck Smith, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California, has issued an urgent prayer request for her father,who is battling lung cancer.
In a message posted on Facebook, she wrote: “Update for September 20: My dad was just admitted to the hospital for ‘general weakness’ brought on by the severe anemia his chemotherapy has caused.
“He had a transfusion yesterday, but he told me last night that it had not helped him to feel better. He had received a good report from the doctor that the cancer is not showing up in his blood work, so this setback is a ‘bump in the road’, as he would say.
“Please ask for the Lord to accomplish His perfect will for my dad, with no interference from the enemy.”
In other stuff…
This video is called “How To Start A Movement”…and if you haven’t seen it, you need to.
It’s all yours today…