Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What Timothy Green reminded me...

Parents will drive you crazy with the things they say over and over again, won't they? At first they're always harping on you to brush your teeth, clean your room, change your overbearing! As you get older it becomes "Buckle up and drive safely!" "Cherish this time it won't last." Then you move away from home, thinking you're free. Nope. "You need to start planning for retirement!" "Don't buy can save a ton going used!" Then, when our first child was born it became "He'll grow up so fast! Hang on and enjoy every moment." People say that all the time. Honestly, it always annoyed me. As it would turn out, they say it because they learned something a long time ago and Timothy Green reminded me of it tonight. I need to confess up front, this blog post is for me, rather to me. If it resonates with you, great, but it's more what I need to hear. 

Since the kids are off for Thanksgiving break, we stayed up late last night and had a movie night. The selection, The Odd Life of Timothy Green - a Disney film. Cute movie. The entire family enjoyed it. Without spoiling the plot, I'll give you the gist. This child is dropped into the lives of this couple. They immediately fall in love with him. Everything is great, except he has leaves growing on his legs. Leaves sort of represent the passage of time and life experiences. The family begins to take Timothy's existence for granted, not realizing that he won't be around for long. 

It isn't an overly sappy film, but it reminded me of how precious each moment is in life. Not every one of them will be happy or full of giggles. There will be plenty of moments filled with frustration, disappointment, tattling, crying, and hurt. Regardless of the circumstance, each moment is precious because we are on a journey together, not knowing where it will lead but knowing that each moment together is a point along the path. 

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure." - Psalm 39:4-5, NIV

I know, I know, it's depressing. The fact that it's depressing doesn't change the reality of it. Sometimes we need to hear it. On average, you have 936 weeks from the birth of a child until their high school graduation. Lord willing, I have 595 weeks left with my son. 699 with my daughter. I know for some of you, you winced and are thinking that I shouldn't think like that. What I am discovering is that if I don't live with a constant awareness of this temporary life and my temporary time here, I might inadvertently waste my life. I might miss out on the influence I could have on those around me, specifically those closest to me. I might also miss out on the lessons I need to learn from them. 

I may only be a breath, but I want my breath to count. I want my breath to bring out the best in those in my care. I dare you to pray this Psalm - "Lord, show me the number of my days. Remind me of the temporariness of my life. Remind me that I am but a breath, that I am barely a blip in light of eternity. Lord, use me to make my blip, my breath honor you."

Time is fleeting. Many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow and you're already doubling up your blood pressure medicine because of that crazy Aunt that you can't stand, because of the constant nagging, comparison games, and the noise. Moses said it this way:
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  - Psalm 90:12, NIV
It's that last part that we miss out on. We don't number our days to be depressed. We don't number our days so that we will slow down and take time to ooh and awww about our kids and grandkids. We live in a constant awareness of the frailty of life that we may gain a heart of wisdom. So, slow down, don't get worked up when things don't go how you want when you want, remember - he's 6, she's 4, and she's 9. Don't let people get to you. You're merely a breath...don't waste it on the unimportant and irrelevant. Use your breath for influence. Use your breath to build the Kingdom of God. Use your breath to change the world. You are a breath in progress. May you discover a heart of wisdom as you breathe. 

Oh! I forgot you were still here. I hope I wasn't rambling. Thanks for reading.  Happy Thanksgiving. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 41

Yesterday was the final day of our 40 Days in the Word campaign. So many great things have happened as a result of these past 40 days. Here's just a few:

  • I've heard people say things like "The Bible has been brought to life for me!" "I never knew how to study on my own before this." "This is exactly what I needed!" 
  • Groups were asked to do a Micah 6:8 service project. Many have supported local community ministries.
  • One group raised over $1,000 for our local backpack program that ensures that children have food to eat when they are home for the weekends.
  • Another group is hosting a benefit concert next Monday, Dec. 2nd at Ransdell Chapel on the campus of Campbellsville University with a goal to raise $12,000 to rescue 12 babies from impoverished nations. Read all about it and give online here.
  • Yet another group is planning to host a "Soup Kitchen on Wheels" this winter, delivering meals to some of the people with the greatest need in the community. 
  • Others have supported our church food pantry. 
The point is this: When you invest God's Word in your life, something is stirred to action in you. You can't exactly explain it, but you know it is God at work in you. 

We finished the preaching series yesterday morning with the challenge to be grateful in response to God's work in you. We asked you to simply write what you are thankful for. This was the result:

We have much to be thankful for. But you already knew that. Sometimes it is helpful to write it down, isn't it. 

Joel's final application yesterday morning was to write a thank you note to someone. If you were here, you have no excuses. We gave you the card and envelope. Now, on day 41, send it. 

The worst thing that could happen on Day 41 is that you allow what God has started, to end. Continue to allow God's Word to speak into your life, direct your life, and change your life! Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Bubonic Plague & A Hymnal:

The world isn't getting any better is it? Do you find yourself more and more frustrated, angry, and sometimes hopeless when you read or watch the news of the day. Government's making bad decisions. Hatred. Murder. You wonder, when will it all end? 

I'm in my second semester of graduate school.** I've been reading a challenging book (meaning - I'm struggling to understand the words), but in the middle of my reading, I found a story I've never heard before and knew I had to share. 

You've probably heard of a guy named Martin Luther (1483-1546), the earliest leader of the Reformation movement. One could talk about Luther's investment in the history of Christianity for months. I want to focus in on one little slice of time, 1527 to be exact:

In 1527, the bubonic plague swept throughout Germany, decimating the population, and eventually found its way to the tiny town of Wittenberg. Martin Luther was forced to confront the threat while tormented with various digestive-tract ailments of his own— so much so that he reached the point of despair. “I felt,” Luther wrote to his closest friend, Philipp Melanchthon, “completely abandoned by Christ.” Melanchthon himself had already fled the plague. Despite these convulsions, both personal and national, Luther intervened on behalf of the masses who were being stricken by the plague. The elector had begged him to leave, but the Reformer instead disseminated an essay entitled “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague,” and urged political leaders and church leaders to stay behind and set up homes for the sick. True to his word, Luther soldiered on in Wittenberg, lecturing to empty classrooms and returning home each night to his Katie and a house filled with those afflicted by the plague. In fact, their home remained under quarantine until after the plague had lifted. It was during these days that Luther penned the words to “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” (*1)

Here are the lyrics to the final verse:
That word above all earthly pow'rsNo thanks to them abidethThe Spirit and the gifts are oursThru Him who with us sidethLet goods and kindred goThis mortal life alsoThe body they may killGod's truth abideth stillHis kingdom is forever
Often, this song is believed to be addressing the attacks from the Roman Catholic church, but when we read the lyrics in light of the circumstances people were facing, it seems to have been more about what to do when there is no political solution to the threats society faces. 

It seems Christians fail to remember that Jesus is the hope for the world. Our money, political involvement, the systems of this world cannot fix the ultimate problem in this world. Sin. The United States of America cannot legislate a solution to it. (Or any other government, for that matter) The education system will not fix it. 
the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27) 
Did you catch that? We know the answer to the greatest problem in the world! It's not hidden from us. The world will scramble, trying to find cures and solve problems; not knowing the cures and solutions they are looking for only address symptoms of the bigger problem. 

In you lies the answer the world needs. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Disease may kill our bodies. Wars may destroy nations. Societal morality may crumble. Famines and natural disasters may decimate the population. Genocides, Abortion, Suicide, and all the world's woes may overwhelm us. Luther would put it this way: "This mortal life also, the body they may kill, God's truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever!" 

Live today with a sense of urgency that the world may know they've been looking for the wrong answer. Jesus is hope! Jesus is Truth! Jesus is life! Jesus is salvation! Jesus is in you! Jesus Christ is the hope for the world and He is IN you!


**I should clarify...this is my second of something like 12 semesters - 1 class at a time. Don't be impressed.

(*1) Thornbury, Gregory Alan (2013-03-31). Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F. H. Henry (Kindle Locations 3090-3099). Crossway. Kindle Edition. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Five (11/8/13)

1. New (to us) Family Activity - Geocaching
Did this last night with the kids and was a big hit. Think treasure hunt using GPS. It's a blast. There's plenty of treasures to find right here in Taylor County! Find all the details here. 

2. Five Conversation Jumpstarters for Families - (via Radical Parents)
We want you to talk to your kids and we want them to talk back to you. Most all parents know that sometimes this is easier said than done. Today we want to offer you 5 ideas for starting a conversation with your teenager.
 3. A Biblical Alternative to Nationalized Healthcare - (via Bob Russell)
rather than just ridiculing the government’s incompetence, can anyone present a realistic alternative to solve the nation’s complex health-care problems? I wish public officials would consider some basic principles from the Bible about caring for the poor. While the Bible is primarily a book introducing us to salvation through Jesus Christ, it is also the best blueprint for a good life here. CHECK OUT BOB'S GREAT THOUGHTS HERE
4. Emotional Baby - (via YouTube)

5. Quote of the Week - (via Carey Nieuwhof)
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. -- Mark Twain

Have a great weekend! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wins (seen and unseen)

As I've mentioned before we start off each week's church staff meeting talking about "wins" from the week. We are in the process of creating definitions for wins within each activity that happens within the church. In the broader scope of things, we define a win as anything that is outward evidence of people moving towards the goal of being "rooted in God's love." 

We have goals for all our people.  Yes, we have goals for our adults, but we are equally concerned about, and have goals for our teens and children. If you were in worship yesterday you witnessed a win. During both of our services we invited up a group of children to the platform, not to perform for us, but to engage in worship with us. 

The children came forward and sang "Our God" with the praise band, and you, the congregation. It was an exciting thing to be part of as children were not just present in a worship service but that they are the Church as much as anyone else in the room. They were shown that they can worship with adults, with teens, because we all have the same audience of one, our heavenly Father. This is one of many ways our children's ministry workers are leading our children to become "rooted in God's love" alongside parents who model these values at home. 

We also know that there are many wins that you don't get to see. Here's one for you: I love seeing these types of things on the bulletin tear-off:

So, let's celebrate together as a church, what are some wins you've witnessed in your own life or the lives of others?

Friday, November 1, 2013

5. 11/1/13

As you sit today, in your sugar-induced coma, please enjoy this week's 5 favorites:

1. The Secret of Superman - (via Orange Parents)
The right story can inspire.
The right story can incite faith.
The right story can give hope. (Read the rest)

2. Twelve Cultural Trends Churches Cannot Ignore - (via Carey Nieuwhof)
While there are dozens of trends that are impacting the church, the trends outlined below are what I would call ‘organizational sleepers’. We all see them. Our lives are impacted by them every day. But many leaders are not talking about their impact. One of the reasons we’re not talking about these issues might be that few of these trends have implications for the church that are clear cut or obvious. (Find out what these 12 things are here)

3. Oldest Selfies - (via Neatorama)
(circa 1900)

Highest Paid Public Employees

 Have a great weekend!