Monday, June 30, 2008
Radio silence. Sorry. I've heard nothing.
I've been working on my dissertation today and am off to the North American Christian Convention tomorrow.
I enjoyed the opportunity, this past Sunday, to preach at Community Church of Columbus, Indiana. During the first service I went way too short, but other than that it seemed to go fine. It was nice to reconnect with people (some of whom I hadn't seen in a very long time).
The girls and I stayed on the lake as the guests of my Aunt Loretta and Uncle Dave (who attend CCC--thanks for the hospitality). The lake was still high from all of the flooding that area has endured. But the morning sun was wonderful.This is Scott Hundley, brother of Grandview's own (formerly) Tom Hundley. He is on staff there and appears to me to carry plenty of the load (thanks, Scott, for the invitation to preach). I have known his wife, Penny, since birth. She led worship Sunday. It was great to see her up there using her gifts. Scott and Penny have three daughters who are roughly the same age as our girls.
After the service some of the Wymer cousins were able to reconnect. It was a good day.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Only Meghan looks worried by the faith journey.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I think they should say, "Hey, if you can ride the bike to the written test without getting killed, then it's all yours!"
Thanks to Buddy Swain for riding my little motorcycle to the DMV. We went on the interstate (the bike is not really built for interstate speeds). The instructor wouldn't let him stand near her while she gave me the test. "You're going to have to stand over there, sir." She said, as if this was a traffic stop and she was worried he was packing.
Thanks to dad for giving me the bike (many years ago). Thanks to bro-in-law Deon for giving it back to me when he was done with it. Thanks to Cindy for not getting uptight about motorcycles (did you say motorcycle or MOTOR-SICKLE in your head just then?).
Buddy and I celebrated afterward at Dixie Barbecue.
Here's the cooooool bike. A 1975 Honda Supersport 400. I now drive a '52 Chevy truck and '75 Honda motorcycle. I am the KING of recycling!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
What does interest me is that the article reports that in a speech Obama wondered what kind of Christianity we would teach in schools, even if that were an option. "Would it be Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?" He asked. Adding that "the Sermon on the Mount is so radical that it's doubtful the Department of the Military would survive."
I don't recall ever hearing a presidential candidate mention the Bible as anything but a way to curry nostalgic favor with a semi-religious electorate. If nothing else, I appreciate Obama's grasp of the challenge of Jesus' sermon. The Sermon on the Mount is radical. If we aren't going to try to follow it we should at least admit that we don't have the courage to try.
Obama's speech appears to have been touching on the issue of why it's impossible to introduce Christianity into schools because of the disagreements within the the Christian community. He's right about that. I really wouldn't want Dobson or Sharpton in charge of my kids' education (although, with the music my children are forced to hear on the bus, either Dobson or Sharpton have the potential to protect my children better than the current "no moral stand" climate in school systems).
What I would like to hear him discuss (and maybe he has) is how that is any different than the disagreements we face in the secular scientific, artistic, and historical schools of thought. If complete agreement on issues is essential then we best disband schools now.
The secular educators don't disagree less than Christian disagree. Should they get a free pass while religious people are told to be quiet in public and keep their "private" opinions to themselves?
My challenge to Obama (and I KNOW he has time to read unknown blogs!) is to take what appears to be a first class intellect and apply it to Christianity and the NEA equally. The problem is that if he challenged them the way he challenged Christians, he would immediately become unelectable.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I hope you had a good week. I haven't blogged much--not because I've been too busy. Instead, I've been wrestling with something must haunt every preacher from time-to-time, though I don't hear it mentioned much. Sometimes, as a person who is expected (paid!) to get up in front of people every week and say something, I grow weary of feeling like a gadfly. Fred Craddock says that preachers should remove their "oughts" and "shoulds" from sermons (he is undoubtedly aware of the irony in that statement). I think he's right. Too many "oughts" and "shoulds" don't just wear on the hearer; they wear on the speaker.
"Love God more. Love God more. Do what God wants you to do. Appreciate what God has done. Our culture is fallen. There is a better way."
Phew ... enough. I believe those things, but if a person isn't careful he becomes a "nattering nabob of negativism" (that was a line from Nixon, I think?). I need to plan a sermon series that is just rejoicing. I'm not used to doing that. Maybe Joel Osteen will answer the phone if I give him a call. He probably gets weary in the other direction.
So, for the record: God is good. The world is an amazing and beautiful place. The church is one of God's footholds of grace and truth in a world that needs grace and truth. Your smiling face, your worship of God, your singing, your kind handshakes and hugs will be welcome tomorrow--no matter where you worship.
Tomorrow's sermon is the first of a two-parter. The second part will be preached by Jeff Miller next Sunday. The title, "Better than Jesus, Part 1" is a little misleading. Preaching on John 14 is fraught with difficulty (fraught?!! there's a word worth researching). I will be focusing on Jesus' truth claims as the "way, truth, and light." Jeff will focus next week on the part where Jesus tells us that we will do greater things than he did.
22 June 2008
Father, we rise up early in the morning and we bless you for your staggering kindness to us. Thank you for your Son; for the pathway he paved, for the truth he proclaimed; for the life that he gave us. Thank you for the nature and character of our Creator, your word, made flesh and living among us.
Honor and praise to your Son for going to prepare a place for us. Honor and praise to your Spirit for staying behind with us; for not leaving us as orphans.
Call us, O Father, from the vain things we chase. Forgive us for making our own safety the center of our lives, when your Son made clear to us the truth that if we try to save our lives we will lose them. Forgive us for making the accumulation of things the center of our lives, when your Son showed us that we cannot serve you and mammon. Forgive us for making our relatives the center of our lives, when your Son said that those who do the will of the Father are his brothers and sisters. Forgive us for making our various lusts the center of our lives when your Son has shown us that the highest life is one that is un-derailed by such things.
By the example of Jesus of Nazareth help us to make you the center of our lives; be our ambition and boulevard both.
Help us to be strong and humble in our proclamation of and living of the truth of a God who loves humanity too much to stand by and do nothing while people cling to the shrapnel of lives destroyed by selfishness, false gods, and foolishness.
Be present with the prayer list people. Give them healing, hope, joy, strength, safety, purpose, and comfort. Be with those of us who aren’t on the prayer list, that we will consider our responsibility to be those who are sick, hurting, sad, depressed, or near death.
Lord, somewhere in the world there is a young man so filled with hate that he is willing to blow himself up, killing others with him. Bless him. Send peace to him. There are others who rejoice when American soldiers are hurt or killed. Bless them with changed hearts and a stable nation. Please return our loved ones safely to us. Bless your world with peace. It will have to come from you. We have failed. Flood your people with your Spirit.
Our world is so noisy, Lord. The shouting politicians, the loud and manipulative commercials, the nagging preachers, hear our unspoken prayers in the too short time of silence:
We break the silence by praying together, with one voice, the prayer your Son taught us:
The Lord’s Prayer
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The sermon tomorrow is almost ready. On these weeks when I pick the topic before I pick the text I find myself ill at ease. While I believe the point of the sermon tomorrow is biblical and important, it doesn't arise completely out of Revelation 1:9-16 (John's vision of Jesus in his power and glory).
I'm thinking of showing a couple of slides during the sermon (I'm still not sure it's the best way to get my point across ... guess I should decide soon). If I do show them then I will compare this photo:With this photo:Here's the prayer. I hope you have a wonderful Father's Day.
15 June 2008
Nothing in our hearts is hidden from you, O God; though we may have hidden much from ourselves. Take the hearts that we open before you and enlighten us.
We have gathered in this room in order to say aloud how worthy of our love you are. The mercy you have shown us by creating and sustaining us, despite our regular rejection of your ways, is still strange to us. By the power of your Spirit and by the grace of your Son may we be transformed into your image so that your image will be ever more visible to the world.
Give us a fresh vision of your Son; of his passion and power; of his humility and humanity; of his authority and divinity. In the light of that vision give us the confidence in you that we require if we are to live as people of faith, love, and resurrection. Give us a glimpse of the peace that you have for us if we will allow you to be our hope.
Forgive us for judging people by their appearance. Forgive us for judging ourselves by our appearance. You made us. Make us comfortable in our own skin. Give us peace with your calling in our lives and with the gifts you poured into us to enable us to be faithful. Help us to embrace the purpose and plan of the gospel: a new creation, a kingdom of priest to serve our God.
Remember, we pray, those who are sick. Remember those who are struggling under the weight of depression. Remember those who are working hard but finding themselves unable to make financial ends meet. Remember those who are in marriages where the flicker of hope needs fresh fire. Remember those who have had the futures they have imagined with spouses and children undermined by loss. Remember those whose time has come to die. Give your peace to all of these.
Remember also our enemies. We trust them to you instead of to our wrath and anger and hatred.
Bless our fathers this morning, physical and spiritual alike. Thank you for the godly men who have modeled your love and strength and mercy for us.
Bless the missionaries who are so dear to us. May they be the vision of our Son to people near and far. Bless the Coleys, Freelands, Headens, Hillmans, McDades, Nyadors, Veals, and Seth Williams. We also remember the Jacksons and the Colemans as continue the process of following your call to distant places.
We have more requests and praises. Please hear the prayers of our hearts in the silence:
The Lord’s Prayer
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Neil S. (he of Amish background) has been in the hospital since Sunday
night with sepsis (an infection throughout the entire bloodstream).
While I don't know how the doctors classify his condition, in laymens
terms this is serious.
Please pray for Neil and his wife, M. There appears to be some
progress. His temp spiked to 104.8 on Sunday night, but is better now.
Also, his white blood count is moving in the right direction.
Thanks for your prayers. Many of you know that Neil just returned on
Saturday from leading the Christian Action Team on the mission trip to
New Orleans and seemed to be fine on Sunday morning.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
For faithful readers of this blog (all five or six of you), tomorrow's sermon will have a couple of familiar elements. I will be mentioning Nathan Furlong, the young man who was hit by a train near Chicago (I blogged on him a little while back). The good news is that he continues to recover even though he broke his pelvis, his hips, and his left eye socket. He has a long road ahead of him, but at least he is trending in the right direction. Amazing. Few people live after being hurled 70 feet by a train. I will also be mentioning the rip tide story I read while we were vacationing in Florida (does that mean I can write the vacation off on my taxes?).
Tomorrow's sermon, "Happier than Jesus," took some direction I didn't expect. I like it when that happens because it makes preparation more like discovery than work.
Returning with the humidity? Hospital visits. We've had three or four folks in the hospital this week. I'm glad they waited until I got back from vacation--keeps me from feeling guilty.
Peace to you! Here is tomorrow's prayer:
8 June 2008
O God, forgive us when our response to your good news is simply to sit, pinched-faced and in rows, overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering and sicknesses in the world around us. Forgive us for looking into the steely eyes of life and losing our nerve, losing our faith in your ability to work in this fallen kingdom, losing our hope in the God who made us and sustains us. Forgive us when we grieve as people without hope.
Forgive your church, too, when our response to your cross is to forget that people around us are in great pain and despair, suffering the poisonous stings of death, living in prisons of poor choice. Forgive your church for throwing Sunday morning parties without thinking to invite the people nobody else will invite. Forgive your church for whistling past the pain of those around us.
Gather into our lives the stark reality of the cross and the staggering joy of resurrection. Gather into our fellowship the dirge and the dance in order to reveal the fullness of your Son’s humanity and of your love for all people in all circumstances.
Thank that the final words are hope, joy, love, and resurrection. Thank you that you have not gone off and left us. Please give the joy of your presence, healing, comfort, protection, and strength to those who are on our prayer list this morning.
In the silence, O Lord, we bring you our joys and our anxieties, our triumphs and failures, our petitions and praise:
We have the blessing of almost instant news of suffering around the world. Be present with those who are suffering in the aftermath of vicious storms in the Midwest of America, in Myanmar, and in China. Be with those who suffer from political instability in Zimbabwe, Iraq, Afghanistan and in more places than we can know—even with benefit of massive news sound bites.
We hear less about the many wonderful things that are happening around the world today. Give great joy to new parents, to people who have enough to eat, who live under roof and in safety, who aren’t experiencing earthquakes and storms, who can still see your hand at work in nature. Be with those who are awakening this morning to your presence, your reality, and your love.
Together we pray as you have taught us:
Thursday, June 05, 2008
For too long I haven't mentioned the Gators. So here are two quick stories of interest regardless of your love for, or hate for, the Gators.
Gator great, Tim Tebow, made news recently on his mission trip to the Philippines. He began by assisting doctors in circumcising children (My, my ... gospel missionaries sure have changed since the days of the Apostle Paul). By the end of the day he was doing the procedures unassisted. No word on whether opponents will fear him more this season.
I read an article in which Urban Meyer mentioned that Tebow has inspired him to travel with members of his own church on a short-term mission trip to Costa Rica. I am fascinated by the difference a player can make in his coach's life. I thought coaches were supposed to inspire players! The crystal football is no more. Recently Orson Charles, a potential Gator recruit "accidentally" knocked it off a table when he visited Gainesville. Charles, who appears to be leaning toward becoming a Miami Hurricane (big surprise there), didn't mean to do it. I blame my beloved Gators, of course. I don't know why the trophy wasn't locked away in a trophy case somewhere, but here's a link to the story. The Gators received two crystal footballs at the ceremony. Nobody knows if the broken one is the one Chris Leak(who just signed with the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats) hoisted in triumph over my friend Bryan's beloved, besaddened, Ohio State Buckeyes.