Friday, March 29, 2013

Jesus was not a Bible Basher

Middle school was a tough time for me.  In seventh grade, I had some friends who liked to pick on other kids, and I joined them.  Church camp the following summer was a pivotal time for me, as I realized that if I wanted to say I follow Jesus, I couldn't behave that way anymore.  Unfortunately, I let the pendulum swing too far, and my eighth grade year I was something of a self-righteous snot. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trees, Shrubs & Cacti

Wednesdays are a time when we are often reviewing some book we recently read.  Well the most recent book in my hot little hands was Trees, Shrubs & Cacti of South Texas by Everett, Drawe, and Lonard. Do you want to hear what I learned from it?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How Does God Work in the World Today?

Sunrise at Manly (8295569288)
How does God work in the world today?  People have very different opinions about this.  Of course the nonbeliever says He doesn't work at all, but even within the faith community there is tremendous variance to this question.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Jump the Roadblocks

I have seen a phenomenon many times in congregations I have attended that I just don't understand.  Maybe it is a product of Americans' "rugged individualism," but we just don't want to be served.  Some of the most selfless people I know, who would give you the shirt off their backs, won't take so much as a meal from their sisters in Christ when they are sick.  Most of the time, these sisters take "no" for an answer, then have a "bless her heart" attitude.  "Bless her heart, she'll gives so much to others and won't accept anything for herself."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Jesus I Never Knew

When I read a "Whatsoever" book, a book I intend to contemplate on and learn from, I mark all the places I'd like to go back and read over again.  With my Kindle, this is as easy as tapping the screen to bookmark my favorite passages.  With my (dwindling) supply of paper books, I dog-ear the pages.  When I was in college, I read Phillip Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew for a Bible class.  I hadn't read it since, but I must have remembered it being a good book because it survived all the book purges in the thirteen years since taking the class.  When Helene and I decided we needed to do a month on following Jesus, I offered to review this little treasure for Whatsoever Wednesday.  Have you ever seen a book where a third of the pages are dog-eared?  It isn't pretty!  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Opening Our Ears

 Psalms 95
O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
 In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.
 Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice,
 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
 "When your fathers tested Me,
They tried Me, though they had seen My work.
 "For forty years I loathed that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
 "Therefore I swore in My anger,
Truly they shall not enter into My rest."

I have always loved this Psalm, or perhaps I should say I really like the song that goes with these verses.  Not only do I love the beat of the song, but I really appreciate the words that the psalmist penned.  There are so many great mental images represented here.  The chapter starts out with the idea that the Lord is the rock of our salvation.  I can't help but think of the wise man that built his house upon the rock and when the storms came his foundation stood firm (Matthew 7:23-25).  He truly is our unshakable foundation that stands firm through all of life's challenges.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Following Jesus in Baptism

PikiWiki Israel 29585 Jordan River
I read every comment on this blog.  Melissa does too. To be fair, however, they don't usually change the way I think about some major theological issue. One day though it did.  Shannon Morris, Melissa's mom, made a comment here that inspired this entire series and changed the way I think about obedience. The phrase she used was, "Follow Jesus in baptism."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

As a mom, I know that I have two ways of teaching my children to make good choices.  I teach them by what I say and by what I do.  I also know that my kids follow my example more than they follow my words.  I think that is one reason that Jesus came to earth.   He knew we needed a perfect example we could follow, someone who would not say, "Do as I say, not as I do."  Jesus taught as he lived, and we can often find examples of his teachings that were exemplified in his life.  The question I have always wondered is, "How was he able to be perfect?"

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brave and Discerning

I am listening to an amazing biography right now- Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes.  I'll admit to being nerdly.  Nazi-era theologian and all that.  However, it has given me plenty of food for thought. 
I knew very little about the connection between the Third Reich and Christianity. It wasn't a big part of my high school history course. I certainly didn't realize that eventually a schism divided the German Protestant Church into a government sponsored church of the "Reich Church" and the "Confessing Church."  The Nazi's first religious demand was not that the Jewish religion be eliminated from society. Rather they wanted baptized Jewish believers, beginning with the clergy, to be removed from the church.  This was long before anyone guessed at concentration camps and holocausts. The church's response was to mull over if modern Germans could still accept Jews in the pew or the pulpit of their local church.  They also wondered if giving in to the government's requirements might help evangelism. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The God Who Avenges

I have said before that the Psalms aren't my favorite reading; however, I have gotten more out of reading them this time than ever before.  As I have read this time, I have really been trying to keep in mind David's life.  This was particularly helpful when reading the 94th Psalm.  This is a prayer of David asking for the God of vengeance to shine forth.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Say Grace

HK Wan Chai Hennessy Road �--�森林 茶餐廳 New Forest restaurant food beef rice Feb-2012
At our house we say grace, but I don't often think about why. We have guests regularly, and we often need to explain. We say that we are Christians, and it's our habit to thank God for the food He gives us.  Exchanging uncomfortable glances, they sit quietly and listen to the words.  It's a gentle witness to who we are.  Our more curious and courageous guests ask, "Do you HAVE to pray?"  We have always told them no, that it was just our custom.  There is no Biblical command that says you HAVE to pray before you eat but we do because we're thankful. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Following Jesus and Putting Away the Blasters

It's confession time.  I don't know Jesus as well as I should.  I suppose most people on earth can say that, but it was brought home to me while we've been preparing these posts about following our Savior. I have deep sympathy for the obtuse apostles, who never really understood Jesus's message until he was gone, because sometimes I'm the same way.  I've read the gospels countless times, and sometimes I just don't get it.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Footprints of Jesus

Isn't it funny how our understanding of favorite hymns changes as we grow?  Some songs I didn't understand as a child.  The Yoda-like syntax of "Love Lifted Me" always threw me for a loop:

He's the master of the sea, billows his will obey
He your savior wants to be, be saved today. 

I was a teenager when I realized the words mean

He's the master of the sea, the billows obey his will
He wants to be your savior, be saved today.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hermeneutics 101

Welcome to Hermeneutics 101.  Come on in and take a seat.  Hermen who? you might ask.  Yeah, I think I know him.  This is not a person.  It is the art and science of how we approach our study of the Bible.  When I was recently reading Psalms 127, I was reminded of a very basic principle of hermeneutics.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Following Jesus

"What changed when you became a Christian?"  The question was not out of the blue.  The young man who asked the question had been learning about God for several months and was trying to imagine what life as a Christian might look like.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

God's Call 2

Last week, we took a look at God's call on our lives.  We decided that God has definitely called us to use the talents and resources he has blessed us with in His service.  It sounds so nice and easy, doesn't it?  God gave us skills and resources that we enjoy, so we can enjoy using them to further His kingdom.  While all of that is true, I don't want to leave you with the impression that we are always going to feel well equipped in ourselves to do His work.  I also don't want you to think that service to God is always fun.  Rewarding (in the eternal sense), yes.  A piece of cake here on earth?  Not so much.