Is it worth it? The time? The money? The sacrifices? Those were just a few of the questions running through my head and heart as I stood over the washing machine a number of years ago moving a load into the dryer. It was not a good season in many ways. I was serving full-time in a local church with very little help. We had two young and overly energetic boys. My wife was expecting baby number three in about two months. The real struggle was in her experiencing premature labor and thus confined to mostly bed rest. She was out of commission and I was wondering what in the world I was doing taking grad-school classes. The questions were logistical and about motive. Am I doing this for the right reasons? Do I really need to pursue an MA? Can’t I just as well serve my present job and calling fine with what I have? Then as I was reaching down to pull out the last handful of clean clothing I sensed the Holy Spirit confirming that I needed to stay in the fight.
Like many Americans I’ve been frustrated by the attitudes and actions of my fellow citizens since Donald Trump was elected and took office. But yet my somberness is not the same as the political angst being flooded throughout the media waves and coffee houses across the land. My frustration has to do with the body of Christ.
With an inordinate amount of unexpected projects and irons in the fire over the past four months, especially the past 30 days, I have been unable to devote systematic time to writing. However, postings will return the first week in April. Feel free to check out the rest of Kingdomology though.
I love these videos of Matt Harding dancing around the globe. The videos from 2008 and 2012 are probably my favorites. Below is the clip from 2016 and while I’m not stoked on the tune, I’m still enthralled by the beautiful folks from all over the world. Each video is a reminder of how big God’s creation is and how huge HIS love is for that creation. It is also a clear picture of the ultimate Kingdom of Heaven which is not about geography but people in whose hearts God rules. They are an ever present reminder of Revelation 7 that speaks of not only the present, but the future fulfilled Kingdom where a “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, was standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Also, they are an additional reminder of one of the most famous verse in the Bible; John 3:16 in which Jesus proclaims that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That statement by Christ is such a great proclamation of God’s grace and also the diversity of HIS love. All of mankind is included in the offer to respond this amazing grace. And that, along with Matt’s videos, just makes me smile.
What about God’s creation makes you smile?
One of the things that I’ve been looking forward to as we kick off 2017 is reading through the Bible again devotionally. I don’t always get the whole book read in a year as some passages are missed because of interruptions in life. But I’ve found that a daily practice of systematically working through the Bible has been just as important spiritually as eating a healthy diet is physically. The objective is one of simply coming before the life changing Word of God on a regular basis and allowing HIM to change us.
In my occupation it’s easy to check out and simply look at the Bible as a text book. By this I mean merely studying the content for sermon preparation, teaching, and the like. Actually, that’s probably not too far off for many of us. In other words, it’s easy to take it for granted. Somehow we know there’s something different to this book and we have at least one laying around our house even if it’s just the white covered gift Bible we got from our grandmother at High School graduation; but we ignore it. Thus many times it just sits next to the Webster’s Dictionary until we hit the wall emotionally and seeks an answer from the Divine.
A lot of folks question the validity of scripture and speculate whether it can be trusted or not. Many people suggest that “because the Bible was written so long ago and was translated so many times” that it just can’t be reliable for us today. If that is true, then the Bible rightly should be questioned.
For the longest time I thought the term ADHD was reserved for parents who just didn’t know how to raise their kids. Then God gave me the poster child for the condition in our first born. My son, John, is a genius. He also has more energy than a platoon of Marines about to storm into enemy territory. Forget trying to fit John into any kind of mold of properness and organization. Calmness for him means that only two volcanoes are exploding simultaneously instead of twelve. But the real awakening came when I realized that if experts were classifying Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder when I was a kid back in the 70s, it would have been me they were talking about.
I needed this. As of last night I came off of my self-imposed Political Fast for the month of August, and honestly I’m not sure I want to go back. By a political fast I mean that I purposefully stayed away from reading anything or listening to anything having to do with the present political races of Hillary and Trump. Really the whole system as well. Sure I was tempted a few times and know that at least once I started down that road of “just to see” what the story behind the latest headline was. But I didn’t fall prey to the calling and got through August with pretty much no political writ, radio, or video. I think I’m healthier for it and not certain I want to go back to my old norm.
This is not to say that I no longer have political thinking. I am not saying that I no longer believer that some politics and laws are just bad. This is not to say that I no longer believe that some candidates are way off and therefore they will be advocating systems and laws which will hurt people.
Yes, I still intellectually and morally believe there is a clear right and wrong. Some candidates get that and others do not. But I also believe that the attention to these issues in the political sphere is no longer as high on my emotional radar screen as they once were. I always knew that the Kingdom of God is the bigger picture. It’s just taken my emotions a while to catch up. While some of these political and legal issues are indeed important; they are just not the “most important.”
So after 31 days of political and social media fasting, I’ve arrived at four things that I do know for sure and four things I plan to do.
I’m not sure when or why we started calling him Sir Rob. I mean he’s not British and as far as I know the Queen has not knighted him. But Sir Rob just kind of feels like a knight. He’s ex-military and a tough guy but yet carries an air of nobility and wisdom with him that makes you feel like you’re talking with someone in the English Parliament. Except of course when he’s making jokes and swimming in dry humor. Which I suppose is a lot of the time. But still, Sir Rob just fits.
I also don’t recall when I first heard him pose the question. I’ve heard it a lot though. Another one of my friends gets down on himself and begins a degradation process. You know; the “I’m an idiot” type talk. I’ve done that. Maybe you have. But right after my friend told himself how bad he was Sir Rob followed up with the question of; “really, who said that?” In other words, who said he was an idiot, failure, or other?
Earlier this morning a friend noted a New York Times article from yesterday addressing the political aftermath of the shooting at a gay night club in Orlando. In the write up the author stated that prior to a recent congressional vote, a “Republican congressman read his colleagues a Bible verse from Romans that calls for the execution of gays.” The truth of the matter is that the book of Romans in the Bible says no such thing. This type of paid journalism, beyond being unprofessional and dishonest, is part of what is propagating the myth in our present culture that Bible believing Christians hate gays.
Yes, a section of Romans chapter 1 does speak of giving into homosexual temptations as being outside of God’s design but it nowhere calls for hatred and violence toward those people by Christ followers. Indeed there are cultish groups like the Westborow Baptist Church that spew hatred toward others. However this does not speak of authentic Christianity. While people who hold to an authoritative view of scripture may not agree with gay-marriage, they do not hate those who practice such. On the contrary, they love them despite their differences.
This can be easily illustrated by the response of Chick fil-A Sunday following the shooting in Orlando.
A HUGE thanks goes out to the anonymous folks at C4 who gave us a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary. I told Ronda, our admin, that I was probably more relaxed after a few days into the sail than I’ve been in 10 years or so. It was a good time to decompress and just celebrate our marriage commitment and also God’s creation. For those who live in the Houston area; the ocean water really does turn blue once you get a few miles out from Galveston. It was incredible to see and experience the colors of the sea, sky, greenery and animals of Cozumel and Progreso.
But beyond that, it was amazing to see the international makeup of the crew on the ship that carried us on our anniversary adventure. I had heard of cruises like this before. The complement of the crew was comprised of people from all over the world. Western and Eastern European nations. Russia and Slavic nations. People from the UK, Australia, and South Africa. Countries from Asia, South America, and other were all represented.