No silence to be had

Posted: February 10, 2016 in Film/TV

tooloud

I like reading and watching detective stories. Some of my favorite TV shows include Foyle’s War, Midsomer Murders, CSI, and NCIS. What I don’t like are wild inaccuracies. The longer I watch a show, the more I find.

Recently I was watching a show (from a few seasons back) wherein a person was murdered in a busy hotel. The killer used a .50 caliber Desert Eagle pistol and employed a stuffed animal as a makeshift silencer so none of the hotel patrons heard the shot.

Um…nope. Not a chance.

First, guns are loud. Even a little .22 can be unpleasant to the ears, especially in an inclosed space. Second, silencers don’t really work the way Hollywood portrays. They only drop the sound of a weapon a few decibels. Third, a stuffed animal or pillow isn’t going to make any appreciable difference in the volume of a fired weapon.

If a .50 cal handgun went off in a hotel room, silencer or not, everyone nearby (unless perhaps they were watching a Rambo flick at high volume) would know a gun had been fired, and hopefully would at least call the front desk if not the police to report the disturbance.

A quick search produced this YouTube video demonstrating the sound differential (or rather lack thereof) between a silenced and un-silenced .44 Cal Desert Eagle. The .50 cal is even louder.

Does God owe me anything?

Posted: February 3, 2016 in Faith, Life

youoweme

Who has first given to me, that I should repay him?
Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine. — Job 41:11 ESV

God owes me! I’ve seldom heard someone make such a bold statement so openly, but I have heard the sentiment expressed in subtler ways all too often. Truth be told, I am guilty of thinking and saying this, or words similar.

I remember a time in my ministry when I doubted. While I did not doubt God’s existence or the saving work of Christ, I doubted whether I wanted to be an active worshiper much less a missionary. The work had been hard, the rewards few, the wounds painful and deep. All night I railed at God. The paraphrase of my cries can be expressed this way:

“I’ve worked hard. I’ve been faithful. I’ve sacrificed so much. You owe me!”

In the stillness that followed my tirade the thought entered my mind, “God doesn’t owe me anything.”

A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. — John 3:27 ESV

My family had eaten dinner that evening. We had a roof over our head. We were in relatively good health… No, there was nothing I had “sacrificed” to God which he had not first given me. My debt far outweighed any payment I might have made.

Life is often difficult. We often face disappointment, heartache, and tragedy. How do we respond to these trials? Do we focus on what we think we have lost and blame God for these or do we remember that they were never ours to begin with and praise the Giver of all good things for His generosity?

Potiphar’s awkward day

Posted: January 18, 2016 in Faith

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Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:39-43)

Just in case you’re not up on your ancient Biblical history, Joseph is sold in to slavery by his loving brothers (they had plotted to kill him at first, but had a change of heart at the last minute). In Egypt he’s bought by a high ranking government official named Potiphar. He did his job so well that Potiphar promoted him to General Manager of his estate. After some time Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of committing an act he was innocent of and Potiphar threw Joseph into prison.

Even in prison Joseph distinguished himself and aided other inmates. After several years went by Joseph was given wisdom by God to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and suggest a way through the difficult times ahead. In the passage quoted above we see Pharaoh recognizing Joseph’s administrative gift and foresight. Pharaoh freed him and gave him a position something like Prime Minister of the country.

Today during devotions my grandfather said, “Can you imagine Potiphar going home and saying to his wife, ‘Well, you’ll never guess who my new boss is.'”

Gosh that must have been awkward for Potiphar.

Do not fear. Love and trust.

Posted: January 13, 2016 in Faith, Uncategorized

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Last Sunday I visited EPIC Church while on a business trip in San Francisco.  Here are some raw notes from the sermon as they apply to me. NOTE: These aren’t necessarily things the pastor said, these are the thoughts, questions, insights which occurred to me as a result of the message. 

Title: Never Go Back

What is present in my life that could hijack God’s vision for my life?

Being at a transition point, that really stuck with me. First question I’m wrestling with is simply, “Father, what is your will?” The second question then, I guess, is “What am I holding on to that would hinder your desires for my direction?”

We are not to be slaves to fear any longer. But why is that true and what does that look like?

How often does the bible say some variation of “Do Not Fear”? (Depending on the translation, somewhere between 30 and 130 times.)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9b ESV

Where in my life am I playing it too safe in order to minimize the fear in my life?

Hmmm…As I get older I have a greater tendency toward safety and comfort.

“Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5b ESV

  • God dos not minimize what Joshua will face.
  • God does not try to increase Joshua’s self confidence.
  • God seeks to increase Joshua’s God confidence.

We are not fearful because the thing is so strong but because we’ve forgotten that god is with us and for us.

How can we be sure God is with us and for us? What evidence do we have of that?

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 ESV

God has already proven himself.

I was put in mind of Matthew 16:4 where Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign…”

The second verse of the song “Blessings” by Laura Story also popped into my head:

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Truth be told, I’ve done more than my fair share of crying in anger and doubting.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 ESV

I trust little because I love little.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8 ESV

Father turn my heart to you. You have told me, broadly, what I need to do as you told Abram to go to a place you would show him later on. Turn my heart away from my sin and supposed self sufficiency and bring me to a place of trusting you for daily bread. May my love for you direct me to meditate on your Word day and night and increase my love for you ever more and more. It is by your good pleasure and for your glory I live, move, and have my very being. Amen.

 

Making a hard decision

Posted: January 12, 2016 in Faith, Family, Uncategorized

My grandparents health is declining, as is common among humans as we age. They are no longer able to care for themselves by themselves. Little things that most of us take for granted, like getting out of bed and getting dressed, have become insurmountable tasks for my aged loved ones.

My wife and I are in a unique position to help. The job I hold is not location specific, I can go anywhere with high speed internet. My wife has skills and experience in caring for the elderly thanks to her family upbringing. And so, we are looking at moving out to my grandparents area to oversee their care. For any family this is a big decision. For a family of eight, it’s a momental undertaking.

The dilemma is not if we should go, that is a given. The question is how we should go. The logistics of the transition.

Here are some scriptures which leapt out at me during my Bible reading today as I have been praying and mulling over this situation:

“‘…for we are here in a desolate place.’ But he said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.'” Luke 9:12b-13a ESV

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24 ESV

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 ESV

“We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” 1 Corinthians 10:9-10 ESV

One of the things I’m wrestling with is the length of stay. Are we going just until they pass on, or is this relocation permanent (as much as anything on this earth can be)? The second clause in the Exodus passage leapt out at me. It was as if the words were bold faced and highlighted.

“…that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

A friend of mine once advised me not to worry too much about the big picture when it’s all blurry, but to simply try to make the next right step. Well, I do know what the next right step is.

At the end of this week, after this business trip, I’m flying up there ahead of the family to oversee things. Once I’m there, I’ll try to figure out what the next, next right step is.

Love & Separation

Posted: January 10, 2016 in Family, History, Uncategorized

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A Sack Full of Love: Local artifact to be displayed in new Smithsonian museum

When I read the story linked above, tears streamed down my face. I cannot imagine the anguish this mother and her daughter felt at this forced separation. I am away from my family on business. The anguish I feel at parting, the heartache I experience just being a way this short time is, I’m sure, nothing in comparison.

I was raised to believe in the intrinsic value of every human life. To trade in humanity as property unthinkable.

guest2342

The following is my interaction with the article Top 10 Ways Churches Retain First-Time Guests by Brad Bridges. While I’ll mention most of it below, I recommend going to the original source on your own rather than simply experiencing it through my filters.

Have a plan

You need to not only plan for guests, but also determine how you will retain those guests.

I could not agree more. Many churches do a great job of connecting with guests during their service times (or worship events, or whatever nomenclature they chose to employ) only to allow them to slip through their fingers through lack of follow-up and an intentional retention plan.

A new Christian or a non-Christian really shouldn’t be expected to “have their act together” and take lots of initiative to get involved. They may not have a relationship with God or potentially are a Christian and haven’t been connected to a church for a while.

When my grandfather planted a church in San Leandro, California after WWII all he had to do was walk around this brand new neighborhood and say, “We’re starting a church, would you like to join us?” Most people in that time and place had come from churched backgrounds. In the exploding population growth of post WWII California many didn’t go to church simply because there were no churches for them to attend in their neighborhoods. Often (as in my grandfather’s case) all one had to do was open the doors and invite them to come and they came pouring in. Alas, such is not the case today.

As Bridges points out, God sent Jesus to us. Jesus came into our context, calling and intentionally drawing people to him to be discipled. We also need to be intentional about drawing people to Him.

Bridges conveniently provides ten ways to facilitate this.  Read the rest of this entry »