Archive for March, 2013

Chosen

Posted: March 30, 2013 in Faith

As a child I was never chosen first for anything. I was often not only the last picked, but even at the last the kids who were team captains often tried to foist me off onto each other. For this reason recesses were spent mostly off by myself. Being a “loner” didn’t bother me as I had an ample imagination and frankly found most kids my age to be tiresome. Nevertheless, being an undesirable left its scars…and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I grew up without any illusion about my athletic ability or social “coolness”. I knew I was weird, a misfit, an outcast. I knew I’d never be one of the popular kids because I didn’t fit any of the categories, moulds, cliques, etc. I did have friends. Most were misfits like me, but nobody chose me.

Except, that not entirely accurate. Somebody did choose me. There is a word used many times in the New Testament which explains this. Many people get upset over this word and try to reinterpret it. I don’t understand why, because to someone who has no illusions about his worthiness this word defines love. The word is “elect”. Chosen.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:1, 2 ESV)

God chose me. Not because I can make the all-stars. Not because I’m any good. He chose me, not because He needed anything from me or because I could provide something no one else could. Quite frankly I have no idea why God chose me. But God chose me. That’s love! God has chosen me and poured His grace on me. And this weekend is the celebration of the historical events which made it all possible. The Father chose me so the Son died for me in order that the Father could have me.

I have no idea why. Seriously, I’m so messed up there can be no useful, purposeful, rational reason. But then, since when does God need to check in with us or play by our value system? Just typing these words causes tears of joy and gratitude to flow from my eyes. I am chosen. I am called. I am picked. The Father sacrificed His own Son to do it. Jesus went through with it in order to make it real. That’s what Amazing Grace is.

There are a few people who follow this blog. I have no idea why. I have no idea who most of you are or where you are on your spiritual journey. I simply pray that you will allow the amazing love of God wash over you this Easter.

Ramblings of a Feeling Better Person

Posted: March 28, 2013 in Faith, Life

It’s amazing how much better one feels without a three month running sinus infection. I hadn’t really realized how bad I felt till I stopped feeling poorly. And it’s also amazing how much our physical condition effects our emotional condition. The past week and change have been great. I just finished the regimen of antibiotics and my entire attitude is completely different than it was at the start. Actually it changed pretty much the next day when I woke up pain free.

Life with daily headaches was dragging me down physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Without that millstone around my neck I’ve been able to focus, throw myself into my secular employment and really enjoy myself at home and at work. I’ve started accepting preaching engagements again and am booked for two weeks in April already. I’m really looking forward to that.

One of the things that I’ve always struggled with is the tendency of my personal study/devotion/worship time to become simply academic study or another lesson planning session. It becomes less about my relationship with God than my relationship with my future audience. During the last week or so I’ve really been focused on not allowing that to occur. The results have been amazing. The other night as I recounted to my wife what I’ve been reading and meditating on, tears of joy and gratitude came to my eyes as I again considered the amazingness of Grace and having been called and chosen by God despite my wretchedness.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound… Have you ever really meditated on the words to that hymn?

I Been Feelin’ a Mite Poorly

Posted: March 19, 2013 in Life

I haven’t felt much like writing lately. I’ve been suffering from a daily string of headaches and migraines for over a month now. Several required a visit to the ER. I finally scheduled an appointment with my doctor yesterday. He did notice that I have a sinus infection, but scheduled me for a C/T scan also to make sure there was nothing brain-wise going on. The scan showed brain being “normal” (obviously it only checks for physical defects) but that I do indeed have a sinus infection. The doctor ordered an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory shot be given me and proscribed me some high powered antibiotic meds. By the end of the day I was feeling much better … and wonder of wonders was able to breath easy without nose spray or nasal decongestant tabs for some months.

Here is my hypothesis based on observations over the past several months: I believe I’ve had this sinus infection since at least early December. Back then I went into the ER for a migraine and the doctor, after checking my throat and ears asked if I had been feeling sick or had a cold or anything. Other than my headache I had been feeling fine. And since flying several times hadn’t caused any discomfort he shrugged it off. I’m thinking that because I didn’t have any cold type symptoms and I do have a history of headaches, I never connected the two together.

So today I can breath and, so far, am headache free. Here’s praying it’s this simple.

And the thought strikes me that sometimes when we’re praying for God to take away the pain and we think He’s saying “no” that the subtext there might be something along the lines of “get your butt to the doctor dumbass.”

All God’s Lonely Children

Posted: March 7, 2013 in Faith, Life

A little baby’s born
Daddy’s up and gone
You see his mama cry
Don’t you turn away
She’s needing you today
To help her dry her eyes

All God’s lonely children
Sometimes lose their way
All God’s lonely children
Need your love today

Met a little man
Reaching out his hand
He’s reaching out for you
Won’t you take his hand
Help him understand
And try to see him through

All God’s lonely children
Sometimes lose their way
All God’s lonely children
Need your love today

People
People
People
People

Love my people, it’s not in the steeple
It’s in your heart and in your hands
Open up your heart and reach out your hands
And then you’ll begin to understand

Why all God’s lonely children
Sometimes lose their way
All God’s lonely children
Need your love today

People
People
People
People
People
People

— Kenny Rogers and the First Edition

repetition

The other day I overheard someone mockingly ask, “Why do you go to church every week when they just say the same thing over and over?” I confess, as a preacher, that I am something of a broken record. Most of my sermons deal with the Five Solas in some way. (I won’t go into that now. I might write on it in the near future but for now, if you’re unfamiliar with the Five Solas you can get a decent basic explanation here.) Even so, there are very good extra-biblical reasons for believers to make regular church attendance and Bible reading a priority in our lives.

Educators have long understood the importance of repetition. This is true not just in academics but for spiritual growth as well. We’ve all had mountain top experiences and moments of spiritual revelation. We’ve all, subsequently, found ourselves slipping into old patterns of behavior and thought.  The whyfor of this could take an entire paper in its own right. Basically, though, we tend to slip back into easy and comfortable ways. We forget these “ah-ha” moments. In the physical world there is a tendency for energy to dissipate and things to break down into ever simple components. The same is true spiritually. It requires regular attention, repetition, and constantly having these truths put before us for them to truly sink in and become part of our spiritual, emotional and psychological DNA. Without constant reminders we find ourselves going off track.

When I was a teenager I went oversees as an exchange student. During my time there I went to church three or four times. Separated from parents who daily inculcated their morals into me, from my church family who encouraged, challenged, and held me accountable, and lacking regular spiritual input, I found my life had taken an unfortunate turn and I realized I’d gone way off track.

So, basically, the repetition, and constant reinforcement and reminding are necessary for our lives if we are to experience consistent growth. Think of it like riding a skate board uphill. Unless we’re constantly kicking off, we’ll start to roll back down hill.

Measuring Success

Posted: March 4, 2013 in Church, Life

In ministry it seems we’re always struggling to find or develop a good metric for charting progress and determining if we are successful or not. The default is numbers.

  • “How many folks did you have in church last week?”
  • “How many youth were in youth group?”
  • “What was giving at on Sunday?”
  • “How many baptisms did you have this year?”

A lot of ink has already been spilled addressing this tendency to play the numbers game. Another issue I’ve noticed in many churches is the thinking that “ministry” is the Pastor’s job. We pay him (or her) to do the ministry of the church. It’s an attitude that I’ve spoken against, preached on, and written about quite a bit. So, as I’m reevaluating my ministry pass, my successes and failures, attempting to rediscover what I think about Church (big “C”), church (small “c”), ministry, programs, models etc. I came across an interesting statement which I’ve modified slightly.

The following sentence represents my thinking regarding the Pastor’s role and measuring success:

Measure success not by what you can do but by what you equip others to do. 

GameFest Pictures

Posted: March 3, 2013 in RPG/War Gaming

Here’s a link to some pictures from my experience at this years’s GameFest (I hope the link works).