Category Archives: Blog Postings

Pictures (fill in blank) wishes would go away…

A good title can  suck in even the best of us.

I recently noted one of those “sidebar links” that plaque the social media sites with the title

“Pictures Hillary Wishes Would Go Away”

Couldn’t resist.  Actually most weren’t that harmful and a few were actually funny.

go awayBut isn’t that how many of us are as we go through life?  There are pictures and moments that we really wish would simply go away.

But, unfortunately, like the internet — once it’s out there….

God’s forgiveness and grace doesn’t erase the picture.  It doesn’t make the event go away.  In some cases the consequences of the event (picture) will last a long time — perhaps a lifetime.

Grace does mean that the guilt is erased.  Grace means that while we may have to suffer some of the physical, social or emotional results of our actions — we can be assured that the spiritual consequences are nailed to the cross.

That’s huge. 

I recently revisited the movie Ragamuffin about the life of Rich Mullins.  During his struggle with the offer and glamour of Nashville and the simplicity of being part of a small band traveling around singing in local churches he came to a conclusion, depicted in the movie as a reaction to a very legalistic sermon, that regardless of which choice he made — one fact remained.

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.

That’s huge. 

Even when I realize that I have just had a photo op that will haunt me for awhile — one thing remains true.

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.

That’s huge. 

Why Community?

Ever wonder why God designed Christian faith which is very personal and individual oriented to be best lived out and developed in the context of community?

No one can be saved for us, or accept Christ for us, nor can they exercise our gifts.    Personal and individualized.

Yet faith grows cold and dies outside community.  Isolation paralyzes and frustrates spiritual growth.  The best crucible for faith and discipleship to grow is withing the context of the local church.

It is because we all experience salvation and life in Christ individually and uniquely that we must grow in the context of others.

We need their input.  We need the friction of living life with others to show us the rough spots.  We need to love of others to soften the blows when we are hurt by the friction.

Community is where we learn love, forgiveness, forbearance, and the like.

Church is after all a team sport…..learn from others

How To Ruin A Community

Below are some thoughts that a friend of mine recently shared.  It applies to a civic community (which he and I both are concerned about) but there is also application when it comes to Faith Communities.

Tuesday Rambling 8.9.16 – How To Ruin A Community

community

Could I unintentionally contribute to the ruin of my community? I hope not, but I think the following things should make anyone think about where they live and how they conduct themselves.

Time to ramble about how to ruin a community.

  • Talk negatively about it without pointing out positive things going on. (Negative will always overshadow positive.)
  • Oppose change overtly or subtly by staying stuck in the “good old days”.
  • Show a general sense of mistrust for anyone new or with new ideas, especially if those you mistrust come from a different generation than you do.
  • Gossip about your neighbors, community organizations, fellow believers in Christ, and/or leadership.
  • Never do anything or attempt to accomplish any goal with those outside your “bubble”.
  • Criticize everything without showing the initiative to get involved. This applies to schools, events, initiatives, sports programs, etc.
  • Avoid the weak, marginalized, powerless, or poor. Do nothing to help improve their condition.
  • Rarely associate with anyone outside of your racial, political, socio-economic, or generational bubble.
  • What would you add to the list? Where else should we exercise caution in doing life together?

Missed

missedI missed.  Totally let it get passed.  Never even made an effort.

Missed.

Forgot.

Should have. Didn’t.

Lots of excuses why.  Some actually fairly good.

We post — Mondays / Wednesdays/ Fridays.

Missed Monday.   The funny thing is — for the most part it is probably something no one other than myself noticed.  I am probably the only one it bothered.

It may sound strange for a preacher to say this, but we too often beat ourselves up way too much if we miss our morning devotions, or a prayer appointment, or even a Sunday service.

They are important.  But reality is — not the most vital.  If we know Jesus loves us and fully accept that then rules and rituals are less vital.   Important, but not vital.   A few misses won’t send us to hell.

 

Connie and I have been married for 40+ years.  If we don’t get each other a gift exactly on a birthday — or if an anniversary is celebrated late it isn’t earth shattering.

We know the love and commitment is there so the “rituals” are less vital.   Important, but less vital.

Being free in Christ means that a morning devotional or a prayer time that is missed due to various “life happens” situations are missed but not condemning.

That isn’t to say you can use that as an excuse to ignore these things.  it is far different to be a day or too late with a birthday gift due to life happens than to just blow off the birthday as unimportant.

Just deciding that worship, devotions or prayer are unimportant is far more condemning than just missing in the shuffle.

Monday is gone.  I cannot go back and post in that place.  But I do have an obligation to look ahead and plan for how I will keep from “missing” Mondays in the future.

 

 

 

Waving to those on Curb

Not everyone gets to be in the spotlight.  As Jim Putnam says – Church is a team sport.  On every team there are those who get the light squarely put on them….13907188_1103653103024819_7243051220342466880_n

The pitcher.  The QB.  The Coach.

Then there are the others, like:

3rd base coach.  The center.  The equipment manager.

No spotlight.   Rarely a mention in the news write up.  But important parts of the whole process.

Same with church.

The Preacher.  The Song leader.  The Children’s minister.   All get to share the light.

But the janitor.  The lawn mower.  The secretary.

Different story.

Look around your faith community this week.   Who fills their role every week without praise or comment?

Write them a note.   Give them some encouragement.   Maybe even buy them lunch.

 

Never Get Lost in Translation

Robin & William
Robin & William

Pictured are my friends William and Robin Butler.  William did his undergrad work along with me at Johnson University in TN.

William and Robin have worked for the last 40 or so years in Papua New Guinea as Bible Translators and missionaries.

They worked with a tribe whose language was unwritten.  William and Robin labored to create a written form of their language and then translate the NT into that language.

Seeing this picture got me thinking….

The bottom line for them was these people could not know the Joy of Grace in Jesus unless somehow the message was translated into their language.

That should be the bottom line for us all…

How do I translate the Gospel Message into a form my friends and neighbors understand?

By lifestyle?   Maybe it is the music style in our worship?  Perhaps through meeting felt needs in the community such as crime, poverty, or hunger?

How does this principle change the way we see our morning worship service?   The way we preach?   Maybe even the way we dress for church?

It could vary by setting.   I dress and preach differently in a community where half the families are on public assistance and make $30K or less per year than I did in the church that was in the premier suburb with family income approaching $100K or more annually.

Even the issues we talk about frequently change a bit.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not saying the Gospel is changed or compromised.   Rather, it is simply packaged in a form that builds relationship and speaks in understandable language.

One author noted that his best evangelistic move was bringing his grill from the fenced in back yard to the open front porch of his home.

What are you cooking?    Meat.

Sure smells good?  Yep.   Want to join us?  Sure.

Before long his living room / kitchen were full every Friday night with neighbors of all sorts.   Conversation and relationship happened.

Soon testimony naturally entered the gathering.

Bible studies followed.

You could study linguistics and move across the globe to translate — or simply observe and listen to your community and react accordingly.

Either way — speak up.

 

 

 

Love Thy Neighbor

It is hard to believe sometimes that some who call themselves “Christians”, “Christi-followers”, “Disciples”, and the like really have looked at the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus did have those moments when he called out his enemies.  To my knowledge only when they failed to show a loving spirit themselves, or when their actions were keeping God’s people from approaching God.

Jesus made no value judgements simply based on race, gender, and the like.  He treated even the untouchable and unloveable with a great level of respect.

There is a place for calling out sin.  At the same time calling out sin does not have to be done in a hateful or condescending manner.

Some Jesus followers should get over themselves.  Offer a prayer, a hug, some time, a listening ear, maybe even some tears.

Love your neighbor.   Even the ones who don’t deserve it.   love thy neighbor