Monthly Archives: October 2010
Hey my article on preaching was featured in Grace & Peace Magazine! Thanks to all my friends who’ve been contacting me about it. It’s nice to be published. I think Rev. Bryon McLaughlin is doing a very nice job with the scope, content, layout and production value for this publication!
I hope it continues to be a place where great ideas are shared!
Grace and Peace to you!
I received a phone call yesterday from a dear friend. She was calling to inform me of a death in my former congregation. Someone I knew when he was just a boy, now still in the prime of his youth, suddenly taken. He was a funny kid, squirrelly and busy all the time. I remember seeing him all over town when I would drive on errands and pastoral visits. Sometimes I marveled at how far from home he was on his single speed bike!
He had grown up, served his country in Iraq and gotten married. Now he was gone. She just wanted me to know. It hit me hard. I remember sharing the gospel story at VBS and seeing his eyes as big as saucers just before he invited Jesus into his heart. (I also remember asking him not to throw rocks in the parking lot for the millionth time and to please listen to his Sunday School teacher better!). He was one of the first kids I watched grow up in the church, so he taught me a lot without having to try.
But mostly I remember that he was a kid God loved and wouldn’t give up on. A kid Jesus died for. A kid who broke his mother’s heart sometimes but then turned around and made her the proudest woman on earth. I’m so glad the church was there to be a place he bounced in and out of, a family he could always be part of.
I had no idea when my friend called that I would end up speaking to the family and eventually be asked to do the funeral. (The pastor’s having surgery so he can’t do it.) It will be my sacred privilege to do this funeral. But it comes about 50 years too soon… I’m glad we did everything possible to bless this boy who became a brave young man. It moves me deeply to never give up on the kids we’re ministering to now. We have no guarantee their lives will be long or pain-free. So we give them Jesus today; everyday, with all the energy God gives. He is all we really have to give. And today is all we really have. Life is indeed a gift to be treasured. We will show it by offering Jesus.
Norway’s Thor Hushovd claims world road race crown – CNN.com.
Well the god of thunder struck at the Worlds! Thor Hushovd is one of those guys it’s easy to pull for in cycling. He’s just a hard working guy from a smaller nation who does more than just sprint. The other world-class sprinters fell by the wayside one by one as Thor and his teammate motivated the peloton (main field or big bunch of riders) to chase down the leaders for a bunch sprint ending. He proved to be the best man that day, all day long. Thor has won some key stages in the past but his humble quote was inspiring… “It’s hard to understand I’ve won the worlds. It’s a dream, it’s unreal,” he told AFP. “This has to be the best moment of my career.” The world championships is always a grueling one day race right at the end of the season. Only those who have survived the season in good health with enough fitness left can hope to win. It is a celebration of durability and tenacity. To win the worlds can define a career. For Thor, his name will now go down in the history of cycling legends. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
This article seems to be written to encourage us to engage in actual relationships over virtual ones or isolation. In that sense it’s in line with the biblical call to live in genuine community. But it goes further to claim that how others respond to us determines our happiness, that in very real ways limits us. In the absence of a higher reality like God, or The Kingdom of God, or heaven hope is nowhere to be found unless circumstances treat us well. I don’t think this philosopher has really heard what Jesus said in the sermon on the mount. Jesus used the term blessed to describe those who seem to have it rough, but actually hold the secret to life. That secret is to depend fully on God’s grace. This precisely means not allowing circumstances or the favor of people to determine our happiness.
In fact, being blessed is a category beyond happiness. It is the sense of well-being that follows a sacrificial life. Jesus implies that this is the only truly satisfying life. That life lived in pursuit of pleasure and success will leave us empty.
But the author is right in this sense: the actions of another are required. Jesus uses the divine passive (they will inherit, they will be filled, they will be comforted, theirs is the kingdom of heaven…) to demonstrate that a righteous and loving God will provide all these things and more. Maybe being chairperson of the humanities dept at Texas and having a little soccer player bring moments of bliss. But a humble life of serving and loving has the potential to push deeper buttons in the human soul. Yes, we’re wired to be loved-and yes God has an infinite supply for us, but we’re also wired to serve and sacrifice. The truth is we can invest in others and find a joy more complete that comes from doing the highest good we were designed to do. But it helps if we’ve embraced God’s vision of reality. If we begin flirting with the world’s idea of success we can rather quickly become unhappy even in sacrifice.
So what do you think? Is happiness through relationships and circumstance the best life has to offer? Or is the blessed life of sacrifice truly the best life available? What has brought the deepest sense of well-being to your life? If others don’t bless you, do you have hope that God will (and does)? If you don’t believe in God, what is the source of peace and happiness for you? If you do believe, how are you doing at embracing Jesus’ vision for life? How’s your life going in the upside down Kingdom? I hope you’re feeling blessed in God today!