Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The EMPTY Days

People look to me to be strong.  I get up everyday and have the responsibility of looking after my kids, all three of them.  Collectively they have the energy of a small army.  I too have responsibility to take care of and provide for my wife.  Fortunately she is pretty autonomous, but still I know those times in which I need to be there with her during her own trying times and painful moments of this journey. That is when I need to have something to give her.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Blessing of NOT KNOWING - Reflecting on Max's 2nd birthday

Pure joy!!! (and this, just 5 mins after throwing up)

I speak for myself when I say, "I know so little."  And as life moves on by, seasons shift from one into another, and the number of our years of existence span longer and longer, we prove how little we really know.  But it is in this "not knowing" wherein we can then learn what was otherwise foreign to us  (enough philosophical introspection already). 

Just about two and a half years ago my wife and I received the great news that we would be having our third child.  Given as we were wanting a third, the news was welcomed with extreme joy and excitement.  It is a big deal to have a child, and somehow the novelty of it doesn't wear off just because it is your third.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Seismic Earthquake that Shakes "Christian America"

It's been in process ever since the initial revolutions of this ball upon which all humanity has been riding.  This ball, that we call earth, has ever seen the seismic shifts of generations, and nations, of all ages for as long as man has been upon the surface of this spinning globe.  And many of these drastic shifts of people, in where they live, how they live, and how they think, have been felt but have been so processional and methodical at times that few could evaluate change as it was happening.  It was only after the fact that anyone could really assess how great the shifts were. 

And yet, something is going on for many of us in the Western world that has given us reason to pause because it feels like we are watching the shift and the changes feel drastic.  It is as though it is all happening so quickly and so profoundly that we don't even need to wait for generations after us to assess, but we can assess it at the pace it now moves. 

Take the political landscape of our nation - for those of us in America.  Who would have ever predicted that the two nominated candidates from the dominant political parties would be as they are? Neither excites many members of their respective parties, let alone the whole of America.  And frankly, all "politics" aside, most would identify the two as massive egos who define the "ultimate corruption" to get where they want to go at any cost.  No matter who is in office of those two, or some other party, we all in many regards feel doomed. 

And consider for a moment the massive landslide of redefining of terms.  I am not here to argue that people may "feel" certain ways, and wish to define themselves as something, but the fact that we can suddenly make up new ways of defining terms based on the feeling one has should unsettle all of us.  And yet, that is the problem: it doesn't unsettle many of us.  

It is because logic, as we have known it,  has been covered with the rocks and sediment of consistent patterns, and definitions of years past, now only referred to as "old" and "archaic" in the name of "progress."  This huge shift is largely in part because we are now told logic/truth is not universal (which, that statement ironically IS UNIVERSAL) but is only subjective.  And where subjectivism rules, all begins to shake even more violently.  Eventually ALL will feel it, but for now, only those who hold a line on defining words consistently, values consistently, will be moved because of it.  But it is going to eventually be the undoing of EVERYONE. 

It has left us in American upon shaking (presently felt) ground.  As all of this goes on, suddenly our Constitution is being redefined.  The "rights" we have had to speak freely are being pulled from us.  I have no hatred and animosity in my tone against anyone, but I feel the need to disagree at times with your view and to at least call into question your position and to warn sternly concerning deep convictions I have. And I should be able to do such.  But that is being taken from us in the name of "bullying" and "hatred" and "oppression." 

Our world (across the entire globe as well as here in America) is not about to return to what we had become so accustomed to.  It is well past the point of return.  Many conservative Christians (of which I too am certain to be identified as) believe we need to restore what was.  But I have great reason to doubt that is at all in the plan of God.  I think He lets this spiral into what we conservative Christians would only view as "chaos."  But the question is not "why God?", instead the question is "Do we still believe Him and hold tightly to Him?"  

I caught an angle of it all from a panorama that spans a few thousand years.  It was ever the plan of God and the purpose of God to send Jesus.  He "foreordained" not only that He would die, but how He would die (on a cross - Acts 2).  But how should God do such?  Wouldn't He need His people, His followers to be in place?  Wouldn't He need to communicate all the details of how to get this done?  Wouldn't He require conditions to be prefect and cast and crew all informed on their respective roles? 

And at the time Jesus finally arrived, not even His own chosen people (the Jews) were in power.  The Romans were.  The Jews had to hate the establishment that had taken over. What a mess.  But consider: He planned it to where the Romans would be in power.  The pagan Romans who knew nothing of God, who had no understanding of His will, and definitely had no foreknowledge of a plan to crucify Jesus came to power some years before Jesus arrived in the flesh.  They had time to master a craft whereby they might brutally torture and kill a criminal.   Suddenly many Jews are bowing to Caesar, not the Lord.  They created a hybrid religion that consisted of Jewish roots, along with Roman politics.  Anyone who cared about what was had to be greatly shaken.  And magisterially, mysteriously, and so beautifully, every last piece of this all paved the way for Jesus...to be crucified...and die the death that God had determined and so fulfill God's purposes. 

So my fellow conservative Christians who happen to also identify as American - don't lose heart.  Focus on Christ.  Focus on the greatness of our God who takes the wayward world, the wicked world, the irreverent world, the unbelieving world, with its very anti-Christ agenda (sometimes with intent and yet other times without knowledge of doing such) and pushes through, runs over, and smashes everything we have known.  Because through this gigantic, unlike-any-other earthquake, God is creating the landscape upon which He will do some of His greatest work yet.   

This world is going down.  Hold tightly to Jesus, He promises to save.  Nothing else is worth holding onto, but Christ alone. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Driven by Results

I love results.  Probably too much.  The good results are the cause of some of my joys.  Of course the lack of good results have been the cause of some of my greatest discouragements.  I am likely not alone in this either.  We are all pretty results driven.  At times without realizing it, we are ruled by the motive of results.  It makes some sense.  Our world is one that ever pushes results. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

What Would the Church Look Like if...?

I have had a considerable perspective on the matter, given my vantage point in the lives of people, from stage, and as a Christian in a my own regard.  By no means have I arrived.  Not at all.  Endless are the areas in my own life that need continuous tweaking, deepening, and sanctifying in order for me to be more obedient and more Christlike.  

Still, from my vantage point I watch people in a place where their participation in the gospel and applying biblical truth, is just like me because I see "opportunity for growth."  It has all made me wonder lately.  The very health of the church, both local church and universal church, is a curious thing.  On both the local and universal levels the church is made up of individuals.  And if the health of the church is based on the health of these individuals, I should probably consider how the church might be more healthy and a better reflection of Christ Himself.  And by taking some inventory of my own life, and you your own life, I think we will find what we might do personally to better represent Christ. 

And as I have watched both myself and my fellow Christians in our various seasons, in our various struggles, in these many opportunities for growth, I have had to begin asking: What would the church look like if...

Everyone read/studied the bible as I do?
Everyone prayed as I do?
Everyone did the work of evangelism as I do?
Everyone showed up on Sunday to church gatherings as often as I do?
Everyone loved their neighbors as I do?
Everyone loved one another (in the church) as I do?
Everyone lived a life of worship like I do?
Everyone gave as much financially to the local church as I do?
Everyone walked in holiness as I do?
Everyone made disciples as I do?
Everyone sacrificed of time as to the Lord as I do?
Everyone expressed joy in the Lord as I do?
Everyone desired the return of Christ as I do?
Everyone engaged in a sermon as I do?
Everyone showed up ready to praise God in corporate worship as I do?

Now my aim in asking such questions is not to put anyone down, neither to exalt myself.  It is to make it a personal introspection for you and me alike (ask yourself these very questions and answer them honestly).  It is also to celebrate certain areas of both your life and my life where we respectively have matured in some of these areas.  But overall it is a challenge to you and I to think.  Would the church really be healthy if everyone did as I do?  

The aim is not simply to say we have to master these (and by no means is this list exhaustive).  I don't think anyone ever will, though I think we should be growing in these and be able to measure the maturity in our lives over time even by putting our lives in front of one another to assess.  

My hope is that you and I begin regularly asking these questions of ourselves and of one another.  I think we have every obligation to one another this way, and to the Lord Jesus Christ.  In doing so we will find more areas that God wants us to grow in, and then we will also find Him to be our source of strength even to do all these things as He calls.  The goal is to see God glorified in us, even as He enables us to do so.  So let us grow, by the strength He supplies, and let us see the church both local and universal become a better reflection of Christ. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What the CT Scan Revealed

So there I was, laying on my back, looking up at the ceiling, when again I felt it.  The very fallen state of this body, this life, this very world in which I live.  All of it, gripped by a curse.  All of it, including me, affected by a great grip of its power.  Sin is real.  Again yesterday I was reminded of it.

I was laying down having a CT scan of my abdomen performed after experiencing pain that has been going on for some considerable time.  The very machine about to perform something to analyze what is going on inside me, a genius engineering marvel, but one that was entirely unnecessary if not for the curse I am under, we are under, all of this world is under.  And as wonderful as it is to find out that I do not have a mass growing inside me, nor infection in my intestine, or pancreas or otherwise, still I could not help but feel the woeful state in which I am existing.  I am ever in, under this cursed reality all the result of SIN. 

And no matter where I turn I see it.  Every morning I pick up my glasses, because my eyes are unable to focus as they were designed to do.  I feel a certain discomfort in my back (even following surgery two years ago) and a related numbness in my right foot.  I continue to bear the marks of a brain surgery performed on me when I was sixteen years old.  My home has been chewed up by termites as of late and while I am glad money paid to the exterminator can help he and his family, I cannot help but feel even termites doing damage to my abode is nothing more than the affects of this fallen world.  And I am sure there is a story today (many in fact) of murder, divorce, homelessness, cancer, terrorism, theft, and the unforeseen car-accident that resulted in death.  Sad world in which we live.  And it all finds its root in this cursed reality in which we live.

Interesting the way in which we place so much value in all this world has to offer.  We long for better jobs, better education, a better house.  And not that any of this is wrong in itself.  Without realizing it, maybe it is nothing more than our own realization that this world isn't restful, so we will take any small breaks we can get, which we suppose these will supply.  And yet, I fear it goes beyond that for most.  We seek to eliminate the yellow on our teeth, the wrinkles on our faces, the baldness on our heads, all because we think there is something permanent about this life. 

But that is the very point all these many signs around us, painful or not, are telling us.  This is not ultimate.  But the solution to our ongoing demise in this cursed world is not simply to give in and embrace the ongoing fade.  And neither is it in trying to fix it.  That has been the problem all along.  The cure is in One.  Christ is the remedy.  He became the curse for us.  He became sin.  He Himself took all upon Him, even as He was on the cross, suffering for no wrong He committed. 

And this is our blessed assurance.  For all who surrender to Him, for all who with their lives will believe in Him, He promises that the pains of this life, the cursed nature of this life, will only prove to enhance the glories and joys of the life to come.  So see this world for what it is, and embrace Him.  See this world for all it isn't, and embrace Him.  And in the process SEE CHRIST for ALL HE IS, and ALL HE'S DONE, and ALL HE PROMISES YET TO DO.  It will be transformational no matter what comes in the meantime. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Loving Dad and a Loving Pastor

Just try to be a father.  It is both so joyful, but also possibly the most frustrating matter.   Kids don't appreciate all the sacrifice and selflessness of a father.  They don't realize the cost of things.  They don't realize what is best for them, but only know they like sweet treats, TV shows, and more toys than any kid knows what to do with.  But a father truly knows best.  Well, a father who loves knows best.