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Shoelaces, Socks and Fruit

September 30, 2013 9 comments

I still remember it.  I’m not sure why I was in the gym.  Perhaps it was during bus duty.  The P.E. teacher/basketball coach was my home room teacher.  I sat there while basketball practice started.  The guys were stretching and Mr. Ingram told them that while they were down there looking at their feet to look at their shoelaces.  He said that he was going to show them how to tie their shoes so that they wouldn’t twist their ankles.

*****

John Wooden is a hero of mine.  I have read a few books about him and his Pyramid of Success.  He was one of, if not the, most successful college basketball coaches in history.

Each year, during the first basketball practice, there was one thing he taught his players first, before anything else.  He showed them how to put on their socks so to prevent blisters.

*****

Paul wrote in the last chapter of Galatians that we should not grow weary of doing good.  I take that to mean, for one thing, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit.  It means being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled.  There is no law against such things.  These are simply things that are manifestations of the Spirit of the Father’s Son that He has sent into our hearts.

*****

Shoelaces.  Socks.  Fruit.  There is something that all three of these have in common.

They are boring.

These items are mundane.  They are ordinary.  They simply don’t get the juices flowing.  They aren’t exciting.  They aren’t sexy.

*****

Each Sunday I preach during the summer I preach at a campground.  I meet people who are visiting this area on vacation.  The majority are not from here.

Why?

They are wanting to escape the ordinary in their lives.  Where I live is new, fresh and exciting.  They get out of their normal routine and do something different for a bit.

Me?  I go to the beach.  We’re planning a trip to Disney.  We want to go somewhere, anywhere but here.

Others come to my ordinary.  I go to another’s normal.

Yet the routine is there for the majority of the time.  The normal is our anchor.  It keeps us steady and secure.  Sure, we will escape for a time.  But we will return to the sameness.

*****

We need that in our relationship with the Lord.  It seems exciting to be going on mission trips, marriage retreats and special events.  It is exciting.  However, I am convinced, that the Lord knows that we will spend most of our time in the normal.  He wants to meet us there.  He knows that we need to shake it up sometimes.  But He doesn’t want us to grow weary of it.  He wants us to stay the course, keeps our eyes on the prize, looking to Jesus and running the race.

That’s how we win.

Tying our shoes the right way.

Putting on our socks just so.

Bearing fruit.

Running with endurance the race set before us.

Do you know how to tie your shoes, put on your socks and bear fruit?

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Don’t Grow Tired Of Doing Good

September 29, 2013 1 comment

We’re nearing the end of Galatians.  Paul is giving these believers final words on what living a life of following Christ is all about.

One of the issues that got back to Paul about the Galatians seems to be that they did not support their pastors.  Galatians 6:6 says Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.  Paul is encouraging them to take care of their pastors.  Why did they do this?  It’s hard to say.  It seems that this is a continuation of the thought from the previous paragraph about bearing each other’s burdens.  Pastoring is difficult.  Church members expect total access to their pastors.  They want them to preach, counsel, marry, and bury.  They want to be able to pop into the pastor’s office anytime they feel like it.  They want him to be at every church event to the detriment of their family.  And  they want him to do it for as little as possible.  Paul indicates they should be taken care of.

It seems that, perhaps, the Galatians wanted to do this so that they could do more with their own money.  Maybe they were greedy.  Or selfish.  Either way, they had deceived themselves into withholding from the general fund of the church.  Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  The Galatians were mocking God.  Why?  They did not see anything coming their way in terms of hard times or discipline or correction.  However, Paul says that there may be a time-lapse.  When one plants, the results do not immediately take place.  One plants in the spring.  The harvest comes in the fall.  The Lord may let the fruit of the mocking and deception grow.

The problem is that the harvest is what we sow.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  Look at what Paul is saying.  Eternal life is at stake.  Look back at Galatians 5:19 and the desires and works of the flesh.  Those who do such things do not inherit the kingdom of God.  Who inherits eternal life?  The one who take the fruit of the Spirit and sows the seed that comes from it.

Why was this taking place?  What was the effect of the false teachers of the Judaizers?  The Galatians had grown weary of doing good.  And let us not grow weary of doing good for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  The false teachers had come in with a promise of how God wanted the Galatians to live.  Maybe they were tired of living the life of Christ and not seeing the results.  The Judaizers gave them a tangible way of seeing something.  Follow the law.  Cross off every day how good you have been for God.  They were tired of doing good.  Now, they were going to do something for themselves.  Unfortunately, that leads to the works of the flesh.

What does Paul want the Galatians to do?  Be patient.  Wait.  Live and walk in the Spirit and let the reaping take place in its time.  So then, as we have opportunity  let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  Paul wants good to come out of the Spirit being in their lives.  He wants the Galatians to be good to everyone.  He wants it to begin in the local church, in the family of God.  Take care of each other and then move on to others.

Takeaways:

1.  We are to take care of each other.

2.  We are to take care of our pastors.

3.  We should not grow tired of doing good.

4.  We will reap what we sow.

Resignation, Part 47

September 28, 2013 Leave a comment

This is an ongoing fiction series I have been writing for the past year.  You can find the other installments HERE.

The sun wasn’t up yet, but Dan was, as was normal.  He flipped open his Bible to where his Our Daily Bread led him.  He read the devotional, leaned back and chewed on it for a few minutes.  He had been following this same routine for, well, as long as he could remember.  He would spend more time in some real study later, but he simply liked to begin his day with something easy that would point him to the Lord.

Dan closed his Bible and shut his eyes.  He just mulled over the scripture he had read for another moment.  Then his mind drifted to the matter at hand.  The church needed a pastor.  Not just an interim pastor.  Someone who wasn’t just a fill in while they waited for the search to be over.  The team had decided on presenting someone to the church.  All that they needed to do was stand before them when the service was over today.  Dan began to pray.

“Lord, You have led us to his point.  We have trusted You in this matter.  We are in agreement.  The man we feel You have chosen has agreed.  I just pray that the church will accept this.  We know there will be some opposition.  I just ask you to handle it.  We know that we can only explain our process.  You are sovereign and we trust that this is your will.  Be with us as we stand before Your people today.”

*****

Fred had been up for hours.  He didn’t sleep long anymore.  A few hours here.  A few hours there.  Hardly ever more than four hours at a time.  He chuckled that it gave him time to read the Bible and pray.  Sometimes he took out the church directory and just prayed for church members.  He would look at the pictures and see generations of people he had watched grow up.  He knew that his time was shorter than it once was.  Some days he yearned to go on home.  he wasn’t afraid to die, but he didn’t care much for the dying part.

Fred sat in this recliner.  in earlier years he would have spent his time praying on his knees.  He could have probably gotten down, but he wasn’t sure that he could get up anymore.  He leaned back and closed his eyes.  He began to pray as he did several times each day from this same spot.

“Lord, I pray for Dan, Tom and Teresa.  This is a big day for all of us..  Our time serving you on this team is growing short.  I praise you for this time that we have spent together getting to know each other.  Most of all, though, I praise you for getting to know you in a greater way through this process.  I have seen again that You lead your people.  Just like the Israelites followed You into the Promised Land, we follow you into this new time for our church.  Thank you, Lord, for your goodness.”

*****

Teresa paused between her shower and the time she took to get ready.  She preferred to get ready before she did her Bible study and prayer.  Her mind was clearer and she felt like she could really dig in and talk to the Lord.  Plus, she had drunk some coffee by that point.  She wondered what Tom was doing, but resisted the urge to text him.  She would see him soon enough when he came by to pick her up for church.  She thought back to how many years she had made that trip alone.  The last few weeks had been fun with Tom picking her up.  She couldn’t imagine when they would be waking up together and getting ready for church.  Things were speeding toward that day.

“Lord, thank you for Tom.  I’m not sure why you brought him into my life when you did, but I’m thankful for that.  I’m glad to have him standing with me today.  I trust that you’ve got this.  We know that some people won’t like it.  I just pray for unity in the church.  I pray that this is your man for this time. ”

Teresa picked up her phone and began typing.  “Good morning.  I hope your day is starting out well.  See you soon.  Love you.”

*****

Tom rolled out of bed when he heard the phone buzzing.  He scratched his head as he walked toward the kitchen.  He had slept in just a little longer than usual.  He read the text as he walked.  Teresa was already up and at it.  He wondered if she would be up before him once they were married.  He figured that life would settle down a bit.  He wouldn’t have to drop her off and drive home anymore.  He wouldn’t even leave.  He could just go to bed.  Now, it took him a bit to wind down.

He reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a Diet Mountain Dew.  Teresa had tried to get him to try coffee, but it wasn’t any better than it was when he had tried to drink it when he was younger.  Anything he had to develop a taste for wasn’t what he wanted to drink.

He took a sip out of the bottle and leaned against the door facing of his kitchen. “Lord, I don’t know how we’ll make it through this day without You.  You have been so good to us throughout this process.  Now, we’re about to turn it over to the church.  We believe this is Your man.  We know it.  We just pray that the church knows it.  Go before us.  Turn everyone’s hearts to this.  Your word says that You can do that to kings.  We aren’t royalty, so we know you can do that to us as well.  Be with Teresa.  Calm any anxiety she had today.  Thank you, Lord, for that woman.”

Tom turned toward the bathroom and the shower.  He was going to have to hurry so that he wasn’t late to Teresa’s house.

*****

Dale had been awake for a bit.  He had read some Psalms to calm his nerves.  He had turned to the Gospels.  Finally, he landed at his scripture for his sermon.  He had looked over his notes a couple of times and made a couple of minor changes.  He felt good about the sermon.  Just the normal nervousness that he felt before speaking.  He knew, now, that feeling would never go away.  In fact, he would be afraid if it wasn’t there.  He wasn’t nervous about standing in front of the crowd.  He was nervous about handling God’s word.

Finally, Dale returned to prayer.  He had prayed off and on all morning.  Today was a big day in the church’s life.

“Lord, I have grown to love these people.  Today, the search team will make their recommendation for the pastor vote.  I just trust that You will guide the people’s hearts.  Those that will oppose this vote, I turn them over to You.  You can handle this.  We can’t.  I pray that this is the right move.  I trust that the team sought your will in this.  I pray that I have.”

Dale closed his Bible and headed to the bathroom.  It was time to get ready.

I Have Never Broken Bad

September 27, 2013 9 comments

From what I understand, Breaking Bad will end Sunday.  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth will take place because a multi-year investment will be over.  I understand.  I really do.  I felt that way when Lost was over.  I have to confess something.

I have never watched Breaking Bad.

I know enough about it from reading numerous articles about it over the year.  A man finds out he is dying.  He wants to leave his family financially sound when he is gone.  So, he does what we would all do, he begins to manufacture and sell meth.  From there. he continues to descend into darkness.

Much like Duck Dynasty, there are people who cannot believe that I don’t watch it.  Fortunately, I have  not been accused of being an un-American terrorist for not watching Breaking Bad.  I suppose that no one could make that argument in any form or fashion.

Will I ever watch Breaking Bad?  I doubt it.  I’m not sure that I will ever find the time to sit down and watch sixty episodes of a show that I never watched during its first run.  I will never say never, though.  I might get a wild hair and do it.

*****

I know that some folks watch Breaking Bad and view it as an incredible character study as they have watched the main character’s choices affect his life and the lives of those around him.

Others will find it incredible that anyone,  much less a Christian, would watch a story about a man who deals in what they would call spiritual death to so many.

I’m not going to judge that.  Many would be shocked at some of my entertainment choices.  Others would think me quaint and old-fashioned based on what I view.

How about this?  Let’s not make those choices for each other.  Let’s simply view what our conscience and the Lord allow us to watch.  And if that changes in there somewhere, let’s show grace on both sides.

Do you watch Breaking Bad?  Do you watch anything that others might be shocked that you watch?

Categories: Christianity Tags: , ,

Must I???

September 26, 2013 16 comments

I remember a conversation I had with a soon-to-be missionary around two decades ago.  We were discussing the state of Christian music, which it seems still is discussed and debated across the land.  I told my friend that a Christian did not have to write and sing songs that explicitly used Jesus’ name or any other normal Christian theme.  If they wanted to do a song about sitting under an apple tree, that would be fine.  We agreeably disagreed and went on about our business.  I doubt either of us thought that these ideas would still be questioned twenty years later.

*****

My friend Chad Jones published this post yesterday.  He went to see Jars of Clay.  Not every song they performed were obviously Christian songs.  Some of them were simply songs done by a group of Christians.  I love that they said that one of the songs was eighteen years in the making.  They have lived life and are expressing that life through music.  As a bonus, it seems that Chad and Lisa enjoyed their concert.

*****

Yesterday’s post didn’t mention Christ, the Bible or God in any way.  That seemed unusual to me since this blog is basically about my journey of faith.  Yet, the Lord was there in all of it.  I know Him better than if I had never learned to read.  I talk to Him when I run in a way that I can’t or don’t at any other time.  I am coming to know the Lord and myself in Him better by writing every day.

Most of my posts will continue their normal paths and themes.  Occasionally, though, one my slip through like yesterday’s.  I think that’s ok.

Must I mention the Lord in every post?  I hope not.  He will in them regardless.

Do Christian musicians, writers and artists always have to hit us over the head Christ?  What areas in your life do you see God that aren’t always obvious?

The 3 R’s Of My Life

September 25, 2013 3 comments

I sat there for a few moments.  Just contemplating.  Wondering what had really made me who I am.  I stretched back into the recesses of my memory as far as I could.  Three things have really shaped who I am.  When I put them together, they really paint a good picture of who I am.

Reading

I don’t remember ever not reading.  Sundays were some of my favorite days of the week.  The newspaper would come and I would pull out the comics.  Somehow I learned or taught myself to read.  I read of The Phantom in the jungles of Africa.  Snuffy Smith would visit.  Mutt and Jeff  came long.  Of course , Charlie Brown and Snoopy were my pals as well.

In elementary school, I discovered sports books.  I read the history of baseball countless time in countless ways.  I was there when Babe Ruth led the American League in homers and the Yankees to many pennants.  I would finish my work as quickly as possible so I could read.  I had to stay in from recess once because my teacher thought I had read too much and hadn’t completed an assignment.  Turns out, I had already turned it in so that I could spend my time reading instead.

I read comic books most of my teenage years, along with Stephen King novels.  Without traveling very far, I traveled to untold galaxies and dimensions, not to mention the state of Maine.

Running

I may have been running in the womb, for all I know.  When I was young, I would run around my grandma’s house while she timed me.  Running to the pole and back was my favorite part of football practice.  Not letting me run was punishment.

In the sixth grade, I trained for my first 5k.  I would run three miles every night after football practice.  Later on, during my eighth grade year, I ran track and found out I was pretty good.  Track and cross-country remained a part of my life through most of high school.

I still love to run and rarely find anything that allows me to get off by myself and think.  Running lets me do that.

wRiting

Writing is the newest influence in my life.  I hated it when I had to do it in high school.  Now, it’s just part of who I am.  I have only been writing for the past five years.  I talked and dreamed of writing for years before that, but never did anything about it.  It’s something that I feel like completes my day, whether I write first thing when I wake up or just before going to bed.

There you have them.  The three R’s in my life.  Three of the biggest influences of my life, what goes into my life and makes me who I am.

What has influenced your life?

Categories: Blogging Tags: , , ,

I Don’t Like Duck Dynasty And That’s Ok

September 24, 2013 31 comments

I had a bit of a conversation with someone the other day about Duck Dynasty.  The comment was that if you didn’t like Duck Dynasty you were a terrorist.

I then admitted to being a terrorist.

I’m sure the intent was to be funny, but there is usually some bit of truth behind humor.  I believe this person thinks it’s un-American to not like Duck Dynasty.

When i said that I didn’t like Duck Dynasty the reaction back was that family values and prayer were shown and that it should be supported.  It came across as, basically, it doesn’t matter whether I liked it or not, I need to watch it so that it will stay on the air.

I think it’s wonderful that the Duck Dynasty folks are all about family and faith.  It’s awesome that Duck Dynasty is one of the popular shows on TV right now.  However, can we all agree on a few things?

We’re all diverse and just because something appeals to you, it might not appeal to me.  I watched a little bit of Duck Dynasty.  It’s just not my cup of tea.  Within America and Christianity there is room enough for all of us to have varying opinions.

I think the Duck Dynasty folks are doing ok.  It seems like I can’t walk into a store without seeing some sort of Duck Dynasty product.  I noticed they were on a broadcast television comedy last week.  Duck Dynasty is an industry right now.  I think they are being well supported by America.

If you like Duck Dynasty, it’s ok.  If you are like me and don’t like Duck Dynasty, it’s ok.

Do you like Duck Dynasty?