Tue, Nov 29th - 9:06PM
And Now for Something Completely Different
I just found this in the archives from my old blog. Maybe certain comments lately have made me feel old and nostalgic. It is one of my favorite things that I wrote.
It is entirely secular.
Jason watched the Mexican gardener walk towards his old primered truck. His smooth features wrinkled as he squinted into the sunshine. "The hospital should give that poor guy a raise," he said. "He works too hard to be driving that heap."
He pushed his chair back and watched the small man load his tools in the back of his truck. As always, Jason's eyes flashed about, taking in as much as they could. He looked ready to jump up as soon as a signal was given.
He didn't move until the truck rattled out of sight. Then he rose quickly and walked towards the building. He looked around furtively and then slipped behind a large shrub. He might have hidden in the shadows if he wasn't wearing a white shirt. There he opened a panel mounted on the wall and manipulated a dial. He was back in his chair before the result occurred; the lawn sprinkler came on.
He watched the water rise slowly into its dance. Soon it was swirling, thrown up with torque by the spinning head recessed into the grass. Jason stared intently at the water, seeming to pick out the individual drops on their journeys. "This time of day, the sun comes through those trees in a pattern. If you look close, you can see the drops light up each time they enter a bright spot," he said to his wife.
"Jason, they don't like you turning on the sprinklers," she said. The woman wasn't looking at the water, having long since given up on tracking individual drops. She looked instead towards the doors to see if anyone from the hospital was coming out.
Jason looked at her and was disappointed to see her eyes turned away. " Stacy." he said, so she would look at him. Her eyes were very pale blue. They reminded him of a wolf. She turned her head and caught his stare. "Thank you," he said with a smile. She smiled back and remembered not to look away until he did.
The lawn had been watered a few hours earlier so puddles quickly started to form. Jason found one of them and watched the drops make circles in the water when they hit.
"There are clouds today," Stacy said.
Jason looked up quickly and stared. "Thanks," he said. "I forget to look up sometimes." He watched the sky for a while, shielding his eyes from the sun with his hand. He stared in particular at a place where the sun pushed against the edge of a cloud, making it glow silver. He watched the tops of the clouds as they rolled and looked like slowly crashing waves.
Suddenly he shook himself. "Do you want to go?" he asked her.
She shook her head. "No. I have a while still."
"We should talk," he said. A hummingbird came to one of the feeders Stacy had hung around the yard. It hovered as it fed. His metallic, multi-colored feathers changed with every move he made, first green, then blue, then some red. His tail shifted back and forth, serving as a rudder for flight. Sunlight shone through the glass feeder and lit up the container.
Stacy watched him study it all. His offer was forgotten.
Jason watched a golden retriever get out of a green Pontiac. The dog ran towards her owner. Golden hair flowed behind her as she ran. It bounced with each step. She had pretty brown eyes, seemingly lined in mascara.
"You should rest your eyes now," Stacy said. She put a strong tone in her voice, not intending to argue about it.
"Okay," Jason said. He looked suddenly like he’d been reminded of how tired he was.
"Are you alright?"
"I was thinking," she said hesitantly, "Maybe I should practice describing things to you. While you can still see ... So you can help me see everything."
There was a long pause. "That's a good idea."
Stacy checked to see if his eyes were closed. "There's a green tree across the lawn. It has red flowers ..."
Sat, Nov 26th - 7:39PM
Here's some possible questions for the second week of 40 Days of purpose:
In your opinion, what in Creation best shows how awesome God is:
What do you do that best shows God's greatness in you?
What is your favorite worship song? Why?
How could you add more worship to your day?
What have you forgotten to thank Him for?
What area of your life do you most need to work on surrendering to God?
A: Your past
B: Your fears
C: Your habits
D: Your future
E: Your desires
Do you ever lie to God while praying?
Why do you obey God?
Tue, Nov 22nd - 7:10PM
What is your definition of worship? (No dictionaries allowed!)
I have heard several people's answer to that question. Each answer was different, and revealing of that person's approach to life. Each answer was also a lesson in itself.
For me, I tried to capture the fact that everything that we do for God is an act of worship. Although I probably feel it most emotionally when I sing (badly), I worship in many different ways.
Finally I defined it simply as anything that demonstrates my love for God.
What is your definition?
Mon, Nov 21st - 9:55AM
||I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. |
||And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. |
||For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. |
||For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: |
||So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. |
||Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith; |
||Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; |
||Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.|
I think its important that when Paul talks about our "reasonable service, he immediately takes it to using our gifts in the local church. Making the church strong is a primary purpose
Sat, Nov 19th - 8:12PM
Terri's new blog has reminded me of the 40 Days of Purpose program we went through last year. It is a good program to be reminded of. God bless her, and anyone else who is seeking God's purpose.
Here are a few questions that I liked from week one:
What is the most important goal in your life?
What things about you are you most sure that God got right?
If you had a garantee that you would accomplish anything that you tried today, what would you try?
What would you like to be remembered for when you die?
What things from this life will be the most important in Heaven?
What has God entrusted to you?
Since life here is temporary, what things are important?
Tue, Nov 15th - 9:15PM
Ok, please let me apologize for the negtive tone of my last few posts. I didn't really intend to rip the church. I guess that shows where my mind has been lately. And that I haven't been very victorious over it.
Mostly I am amazed at the potential God's church has. People can be so awesome. I think that the most beautiful thing in creation is a woman filled by the Holy Spirit. Even an ad lib praise song from a group of untrained college kids can be one of the finest sounds on earth. Familes often perform a monthly miracle by being willing to give money, they can't really afford, as an act of worship. Believers sometimes can set our hearts on fire teching something they learned in God's Word. Millions of people, from vastly different lifestyles and interests come together every Sunday for another taste of an invisible God.
The chruch is a miracle. And I believe in it. Even the few who frustrate us and give it a bad name only stand out because we expect so much more from followers of Christ.Even though I am guilty of a lot of whinning, I proudly say that I gladly support the local church because it is where people meet God.
Mon, Nov 14th - 9:41AM
Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
We all probably know this verse. It is frequently used to show Jesus reaching out to the lost. And that is an accurate picture of God's desire to save them. But have you ever noticed the context? Here are the verses before that one:
14: And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16: So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
This is one of the seven letters to the chuches. Many people think that these churches illustrate Church History. That each of the churches illustrates a period of church history, the first one being the early church, the next being the persecuted church until about 312 AD etc. The last one, the church in Laodecia would then be the last church before The Last Days. Most people then, would say that this church would be set in our time, now.
The point is that, in tis verse, Jesus isn't standing outside a sinners heart, knocking. He is standing outside the door of a chuch. He is being kept out of his own church by the lukewarm christians inside who have forgottten his message. They think that they are doing well but they are blind. They don't even realize that they are missing the point. They are rich and comfortable and don't even see that there is so much work to be done. What is the church busy doing today?
Fri, Nov 11th - 12:59PM
I found some great stuff from Philip Yancey of Christianity Today. its about how Evangelicals are perceived by unbelievers (especially, I think, in America). He mentions that he is in a group with non-christians. They see evangelicals with fear. As people full of hate.
When I was writing What's So Amazing About Grace? I conducted an informal survey among airline seatmates and other strangers willing to strike up a conversation. I would ask, "When I say the word evangelical, what comes to mind?"
Often in response I would hear the word against: Evangelicals are against abortion, against pornography, against gay rights. Or, I would hear a name like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, two of the most visible (and political) representatives of evangelicalism. For many, evangelicals were a force to fear—a gang of moralists attempting to impose their will on a pluralistic society.
I think many of our young people see us that way also. They seem slightly embarassed to be part of the church that they see represented on TV. I often agree with them. Since when is following God political. Jesus, and Paul, ministered in a time of unbelievable opression and slavey, in every aspect possible. How much did they oppose it? Not at all. Or rather, in every way with their message of love.
Our emphasis on conversion stems from a profound belief that, as Paul put it, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." Almost every message delivered by evangelist Billy Graham centered on that theme. And yet Graham himself insisted that a stress on getting right with God does not imply a faith "so heavenly minded that it does no earthly good." Quite the contrary.
It feels to me like much of the church today is interested in keeping things they way we have it now. The chruch that "turned the world upside down" seems opposed now to change. We seem to be constantly looking for new ways to make enemies.
I remembered a remark by C.S. Lewis, who drew a distinction between communicating with a society that hears the gospel for the first time and one that has embraced and then largely rejected it. A person must court a virgin differently than a divorcée, said Lewis. One welcomes the charming words; the other needs a demonstration of love to overcome inbuilt skepticism.
I thought, too, how tempting it can be—and how distracting from our primary mission—to devote so many efforts to rehabilitating society at large, especially when these efforts demonize the opposition. As history has proven, especially in times when church and state closely mingle, it is possible for the church to gain a nation and in the process lose the kingdom.
(The words in italics are Yancey's. I reccomend you see the whole article at ChristianityToday.com)
Thu, Nov 3rd - 10:57PM
Tomorrow night will be important. We are having two young adults here for dinner. One is my son, the other is a young lady we have kid of "adopted". She went through a very hard test a few years ago and came to us for support. She came through very well and has since started a career. The two are a little like brother/sister.
We are getting them together because they both have expressed that their passion for God has cooled. They both have been coming to our college group meetings at our house, but have been avoiding church. They have both said that they want to want God more, but they just don't feel it.
I went through that when I was their age. I was raised in a Christian home, saved at 9, did fine through high school, then drifted for a few years. When our kids were born we felt the responsibility of raising them and started looking for church. Once we plugged in, we got very involved and never looked back. I believe both these guys would do the same, they have good foundations, but I'm not ready to risk anything, or to let them waste a few years away from God.
My son has had a rough few years lately. College didn't start well for him and he's now starting over. He had a longtime girlfriend who was a Christian but not a good influence who finally broke up with him. He had a wonderful fiance who was just what we hoped for, who died in an accident. He doesn't have a lot of friends, and no close Christian friends. We don't really blame him for that, it seems like there aren't Christians around that are like him.
The girl is just the opposite. She has graduated and found a good job in her field. Things seem to be going her way now. Interestingly, she seems kind of lonely too.The have both seen the ugly side of church politics and are cynical.
I'm not too worried about them missing church, after all our group is a kind of church. But they both are bothered by their lack of passion. I plan to talk about their feelings. To ask when they last were excited about God. To ask when they think they lost it. To point out that they aren't doing any of the things that it would take to make a love relationship. Sometimes in any relationship, you do what you should do even when you don't really feel like it. Love is a verb. The feeling come as a result of the actions. I plan to challenge them to find one thing to reach out to God. Prayer, worship, reading , service, a mountaintop, whatever. Just find one way to reach out to Him and He will respond.
If you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them.
Tue, Nov 1st - 8:04PM
Lee's blog on communion challenged me. Communion is an interesting word. Obviously, it was about the sacrament of the cup and the bread, but it was more about communing with God. Disciplining yourself to make set aside time to really connect with Hiim. I am convinced that if we set time aside, and seek Him, He will answer us very clearly. It might take practice to get the details that Lee got, but he'll answer. God loves us and wants a relationship with us, of course He will respond we seek Him.
I am ashamed to say that I have been very busy for God. That is, I have been doing things in service this year that have left me too busy to just quietly spend time with Him. I teach, pray, go to meetings, prepare lessons, talk to people, even study Christian History, all before I have been taking time to really meet God. Each of the busy things that I am doing would be better done if I meet with God first, but more importantly, I am missing the best of that relationship.
Its very much like a marriage. I could be very busy earnign wages, paying bills, repairing the house, raising kids, and loose my realtionship with my wife. Its like the classic husband who says," Why do I need to tell you that I love you? You should know it, I just painted the whole house."
It is every Christian's duty to contribute to his or her church. No in the easy way, by tithing, but by using his or her gifts in support of the body of Christ. But it is also their duty to say no often enough to be able to set time aside to really commune with God. That can be done in many ways, depending on what works for you. Anything from worship, to prayer, to Bible study, to meditation. Anywhere from in church, in a worship service, on a mountaintop, in a car. I am thinkling of a special time, beyond your regular routine, but you may be disciplined enough to make that time daily.
Please reader, hold me accountable. If I don't mention having made a special connection with God by the end of this year, and it should be much sooner, and more frequent than that, yell at me.
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