Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ministry should be this way:
We study the Bible, discuss it graciously, held in awe at the concept of the Word of God--therefore we are always respectful of each other's talk about it.
We pray with and for each other a great deal. Those times focus on prayer, and little else.
We make friends among each other, but never allow a clique or closed feeling to develop. We forgive each other when we are offended or disappointed. We never abandon each other.
We always, always look for opportunities to talk about Jesus with people a) don't appear to know Him yet, b) are willing and open to talking about Him. We also give blessings to people freely, in the hope of winning a few more chances to talk about Jesus.

That's pretty much it. The rest of the time we shut up.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pardon my re-posting this one...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I am wondering how age changes our theology? Or does it? Take me, for instance. Since I came to know Christ I have been a Calvinist, premillenialist, soft-cessationist, believer's baptism, presbyterian-government, complementarian kind of guy. ALl of that was in place in my head by the end of 1972. Since then--two theological degrees, 37 years, four states, three churches and two daughters grown up later, all of that is still in place. I have seen no reason--though I have listened carefully--to change any of those core descriptions of my theology. This means that either a) I am pig-headed, b) I was trained well and in a balanced fashion early, c) my nature resists change in core-thinking, d) I remain unconvinced of the alternative systems of theology enough to alter mine. Does theology change with age? Of maybe it changes with circumstances which sometimes, coincides with aging. If I become old and sick and alone, will I abandon my Calvinism? If Israel gets pushed into the sea by the Arabs, will I decide amillenialism is more reasonable? If I come down with a mental illness, will I suddenly become charismatic? Does aging automatically induce change in theological convictions?

Coolness is a thing that can be lost very easily. As in, instantaneously. For example. Saul was cool until the instant when the girls started singing their song that demoted him from Main Cool Guy to #2 Cool Guy (based on the number of deaths he caused, ironically.) 1st Samuel 18:9 And Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on. Bang. Coolness gone--just like that. The point is: the amount of genuine coolness is directly proportional to the inverse of how much we can keep a lid on feeling threatened. Get threatened, and start focusing hatred... No longer cool.

I am not suggesting however that coolness only relates to relationships between people. Coolness can be a solitary thing, too. Many cool songs flow out of some insight derived by the songwriter when he or she was alone. For instance

(SITTIN' ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY- written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper- lyrics as recorded by Otis Redding December 7, 1967, just threedays before his death in a plane crash outside Madison, Wisconsin- #1 for 4 weeks in 1968

Sittin' in the mornin' sunI'll be sittin' when the evenin' comeWatching the ships roll inAnd then I watch 'em roll away again, yeahI'm sittin' on the dock of the bayWatching the tide roll awayOoo, I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bayWastin' timeI left my home in GeorgiaHeaded for the 'Frisco bay'Cause I've had nothing to live forAnd look like nothin's gonna come my waySo I'm just gonna sit on the dock of the bayWatching the tide roll awayOoo, I'm sittin' on the dock of the bayWastin' timeLook like nothing's gonna changeEverything still remains the sameI can't do what ten people tell me to doSo I guess I'll remain the same, yesSittin' here resting my bonesAnd this loneliness won't leave me aloneIt's two thousand miles I roamedJust to make this dock my homeNow, I'm just gonna sit at the dock of the bayWatching the tide roll awayOooo-wee, sittin' on the dock of the bayWastin' time

Now that is a cool song. Solitary. Classic. I imagine Otis was alone. (I imagine Steve provided music support).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Coolness (Part 1)
Definition: a thing which is very relevant, interesting and unpredictable. Can relate to hats, songs, vehicles, one-liners and single words.
Automatically cool things: Harley Davidson motorcycles, Fender guitars, Beatle vinyl, Bible-on-phone, Hebrew, P-51s (any version.)

Coolness cannot be created. It is either there or it isn't. It cannot be transferred, since according to the above definition it must be unpredictable. However, a thing which is cool, can be adapted slightly for duplication.

Christian things which are cool: Going to Israel and bringing back something which was not purchased; Isaiah 65:1,2; Anything written by John Owen; Any Keith Green song off the No Compromise album; early Maranatha! Music vinyl; giving that is completely unknown; Puritan writings; most Larry Norman songs; any Bible verse in Apache.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It keeps happening over and over again. I read about Jesus in the Gospels, and I break. He breaks me. I imagine, fantasize, transport myself to Israel, walking around with Him. (I've been there...where He was!) He looks right through me. He knows my heart and my every thought. I can't get away with anything. It's annoying! But His reaction to me isn't much like how I react to people. He understands. He gets it. In fact there isn't anything He doesn't get. He never goes, "run that by Me again??" And He isn't fooled by any stealth I may try. He goes, "uh huh." And for all my failings, I never seem to use up His love and patience. I imagine being along with the disciples, and getting perterbed with their lack of vision, self-importance, fear, and I very quickly realize what a great candidate I would be to join them. And yet, He hasn't sent me away yet. In fact, He seems to have laid a commission on me. On me, personally. I feel it. Its weight bears down sometimes. And I get broken all over again... Broken on the Rock.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pardon my making a big deal out of this, but as I was walking across campus today it began to downpour. And right over my head a huge clap of lightning accompanied a streak of blinding lightning. I hustled to my truck. And my first and instantaneous thought was, how quickly and instantaneously I can be called home. Death can be HERE and NOW. Even at my age we tend to think of death as distant, remote, and unreal. How very real it can become. The lightning, according to the rule of thumb I learned as a child--it is as far away from you in miles, as the number of seconds before you hear the thunder--flashed and the thunder slam-banged at the same second. I was scared. And I thought about it for the next ten minutes. Call me impressionable, but it drove me to prayer. I thanked the Lord that I was not struck. I asked His immediate forgiveness for all my sins of today. I imagined how I would write this up on this blog.

Monday, May 11, 2009

On Communicating
I do e-mail a lot. I also now "text" quite a bit. I write my mind on three blogs--this being one. I watch AIM for the occasional incoming instant message there. I watch Facebook message for more frequent messages there. I prepare a sermon and prreach it twice each week. I meet with people over coffee frequently and chat. I pray, both out loud and silently. Once in a while I send someone a card and write a note inside. I comment on other people's Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and personal web sites. I am a communications-junkie (commie for short, I guess.) I always understand when someone tells me they "don't do internet: or "have no use for instant messaging." But I have lots of use for all these means of communicating. I want to know what people are thinking, and how they feel. I am interested in the process of thinkiing that evidences itself via all these communications channels. No, I do have a life, and a blessed one thank you.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sometimes I'm not a very spiritual guy. Trust me. And that even though I am a professional spiritual guy. I cannot believe the things my brains can think sometimes. But today I got caught up in a spiritual 15 minutes. It is National Day of Prayer, and 15 people gathered for about 15 minutes of prayer at the bell tower in the middle of the U.Mass. Dartmouth campus. Many walked by and simply ignored us. I remember that Jesus warned NOT to be like the hypocrites who love to pray out in public for the acclaim of men for they have their reward. So I'm always a little nervous about public "prayer events." But today it was good; it was real. Among the 15 who gathered to pray for our nation, our state and our university, were three from India--a husband and wife who each prayed an impassioned prayer that humbled me; two local residents, four undergrads (one from China), three faculty members, two staff members, and two representatives from The Navigators who came to check out our campus. And myself. I led the gathering but Ifelt dwarfed by the prayers of my brothers and sisters. I have come to love this gathering. I don't mind if passers-by see us because I always hope God might draw someone to us in inquiry. I seek no acclaim for it is little enough that we do, and did I mention how unspiritual I feel some days? I am not worthy, ever, EVER, to call out to God as His redeemed child and actually expect Him to answer, to listen, to care. Ever. So, that He does, amazes me, whether I am with anyone or not. And whether it is public, or not. Mmore prayer--that's what we need. That's what our dissolving nation needs.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

One of the reasons I believe the Lord gives us pets, is to teach us some lessons that are clear and easy to get. Like with our dog... He loves us unconditionally. He always loves us. He never varies in his excitement to see us, his contentment just to be near us, his taking whatever Morsels of Crunch we offer. MacArthur loves to be taken for a walk, the simplest gesture of kindness towards him. Each time it is like I am doing some awesom thing for him! He also puts up with Misty and Fatty, though they both look down at him. He lets them harass him with great patience, and sometimes offers play when they want it. He is very accommodating.

They are also so utterly dependent on us. One of my Great Fears is to imagine what would happen to Them, if something happened to my wife and I simultaneously and they were trapped in the house (and in his case, his crate) with no one coming home to let them out, feed them, love them.... *shudders* Their dependence is a lesson on how the Lord must look at us. Pity and care. It is no accident that Jesus used the metaphor of shepherding so poignantly.

When our last dog (Spurgeon) died three years ago, I felt like I was going to die. I had never felt that kind of pity and grief before. His suffering and helplessness, with no complaint at all--just looking up at us... "Momma? Daddy? I hurt so bad..." brings tears to my eyes even now, three years later. Surely there is a lesson there in how the Lord feels for us. Surely I can learn from those unexpected symapthies I felt to transfer them to the flock which I shepherd?