Thursday, February 15, 2018

 

Shootings, Christians, and what our children need to hear...

It has happened again.  And that does not surprise any of us.

I have heard and read a number of responses from Christians.  Responses like these.

Advocate for gun control legislation.  Or be sure we have concealed carry people in our schools.
Be sure we have armed guards in our churches.
Home school so your children will be safe. 

Here is what that sounds like to me.

Politics, fear, and how to use the weapons of the world.

So here is what I want our children -- and my grandchildren -- to hear.

We live in a fallen and evil world.  It will be that way until Jesus comes again.  Hatred and racism.  Murder and stealing.  Greed and gossip.  It is not going to get any "safer". 

Do not be afraid.  This world is not our home.  We are heading to heaven.  Satan and evil cannot destroy you.  Not even death.  God has defeated evil -- even death.  Cancer, car wrecks, shootings are not victorious.

Jesus is the answer.  He is why you never have to stay dead.  He is why you never have to be afraid.  He is why you are different than the world around you. 

In a world of hate, we will love.  In a world that says every man for themselves, we will treat others as we want to be treated.  In a world that says do what you want, do what you think best, do what makes you happy ... we will seek to love God and follow Jesus. 

I want our children to know that as Christians we have already died.  We have been crucified with Christ and the life we are now living we live by faith in the one who loved us enough to die for us.  Nothing can take that away from us.

So live boldly.  Live courageously. Go against the crowd.  Stand for what is right.  Treat people like Jesus.  Let your light shine in a dark world.

And when people see the difference in you, tell them about Jesus.  Tell them they can have a life of joy and peace.  That they do not have to fear death.  That their life matters and they can make a difference.  Forever.

So for my kids and grandkids...

If a shooter gets one of us, or cancer strikes, or a car wreck happens ... we will be together again. 

Because of Jesus.  So do not live in fear.  Live boldly for Jesus. 

Till we all get home.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

 

Valentine's Day is not like it was 46 years ago... it is better

Counting the two years we dated before getting married, I have had 46 Valentine days with Marsha.  She has gone from girlfriend to fiance to wife to Mom to Mimi.

I have learned a few things about Valentine's over the years.  I am a bad valentine.  I am not very romantic.  I don't do flowers very well.  Candy is a no-no.  It's hard for a writer to buy a card someone else wrote.  Movies?  Rarely.  Nice dinners out?  Not so much.

Mimi on the other hand is the Valentine queen.  Especially for our grands.  Sacks decorated, cards, candy, Sonic gift card, hearts.  She is fantastic.

And that is just one the reasons I am glad she is my Valentine.  It is not how she looks (tho she can still make my heart skip a beat when she walks into the room), maybe not even what she does.  It is who she is.  And what she does actually stems from who she is.

Here's what Valentine's day (and week) looks like for us.

Remembering a friend who lost her husband just last week.

Going with our daughter to take one of our grands in for a procedure trying to identify why she has been so sick the last month.

A counseling session with a sweet lady who is having to make some really hard choices.

Packing me up to go off this weekend and talk to a church about how to tell the story of Jesus.

Taking an uncle to get his pain management shot.

Taking a sister to the hospital for some tests.

Reminding me to get flowers for my Mom.

Reminding me of the prayer requests from our small group meeting this week.  And then praying them with me.

Meeting friends to talk about Kingdom business and reaching people.

Sending out a bunch of cards to people grieving this week.

And those are just the things I can remember off the top of my head.

Family, friends, people in need.

Serving, loving, doing.

That's who she is.

Valentine's day is not at all like it used to be.  Not at all like I ever thought it would be.  Sure isn't like she ever dreamed it would be.

And better than I ever imagined.

So thanks Mimi for being my Valentine.

How about another year?

I love you.

Friday, February 09, 2018

 

He Made a Robot... then Married It

Zheng Jiajia is an artificial intelligence expert from Japan.  He was evidently unable to find a suitable mate (or could not find love) so he built a humanoid robot.  And then married her, or it.  Or whatever.  He programmed his robot to speak some rudimentary sentences and has plans to upgrade her eventually so she can walk and do basic household chores.  And the robot has a name -- Yingying.  Or would that by Yingying Jiajia?

So what is the Christian response to this?  Well ...  nothing.  I don't know the man so I am not sure I really can have any response to his specific decision.

But it does raise some questions for Christians to think about.

If someone creates something, is it whatever he wants it to be?

Can you actually marry a robot?  They had a ceremony and everything, so who decides what a marriage is anyway?

Does he love her/it?  Does that make the difference?

What makes a robot a her anyway?  Can she choose her gender?  Or does he?  Can it change?

Is it OK because it makes him happy?

Our world is full of people (and cultures) that want to create their own reality.  Their feelings and experiences determine what is acceptable.  They set the rules and decide the morality of things.

I imagine some are laughing this off as some kind of joke.  But think about the people you know who think that each person decides his or her reality.  That truth is what you want it to be.  And that the only thing that matters is what makes you happy.

I did a quick check of my Bible and did not find anything about robot spouses. But I did find quite a lot about God the Creator and about how he intends for us to live.  What I found did not have to do with what I create to make me happy.  It did have a lot to do with living the way God made us. That does lead to happiness.

So while I may want to laugh a little at this whole situation, I want to be very careful that I don't do the same kind of thing in my life.  And I suspect their are a lot more Zheng Jiajia's in this world than we want to admit.

Life my or God's way.  You can really only have one person in charge of life.

I choose God. 



Wednesday, February 07, 2018

 

Gary, Tommy, Cathy, Death, Jesus, and Life

So three people I knew and loved died this week.  Two of them were church family, one was in my daughter-in-law's family.  They did not all know each other and were not close.

Gary was a faith fighter.  Life was hard but he loved Jesus and worked to be what God wanted him to be.  He loved singing, he loved his family, he loved life.

So did Tommy.  He loved life and Jesus, and he loved his family.  He battled a lot of health issues the past few years but was always an encourager.  He was a Firefighter for many years then oversaw the church building/grounds maintenance and upkeep.  First as a volunteer and then as a staff member.

Cathy loved life and people.  And Jesus.  She was handicapped in many ways and life was difficult.  But she was so friendly and so sweet.

So what connects these three very different people.

Jesus.  They all loved Jesus.  They showed in very different ways, but all committed.  Gary loved to sing hymns.  Led singing for me several times over the years. Tommy kept the building ready, but he also spent a lot of time sharing his testimony with other men.  Cathy just by force of her sweet character was a living witness to the goodness of God.

Life was hard for every one of them.  Long conversations with one about living the way Jesus wants us to, encouraging each other to not grieve over lost opportunities, struggles with physical and mental ailments.

They were all three happy people.  No matter what.  In spite of the difficulties and struggles.  Because of Jesus.

I am a great admirer of each of them for different reasons.  And they all loved me.  One because I was somehow related to Jamie, one because we walked together thru some hard times, one because we shared a real passion to talk about Jesus.

And they are now all home.  With healthy bodies.  Sin defeated.  Now in the presence of God.

They know each other now.

I'll see each of them again.  Because we believe in the one who died and rose again.

That is what connects three very different people who actually had much more in common than the world could ever realize.

And that makes me happy.

So thanks God for Cathy, Gary, and Tommy.  Thanks for making them special and for using them while they were here.  And thank you for making it possible thru Jesus for all of us to be together again.



Friday, February 02, 2018

 

Go Eagles, the Super Bowl, Zach Ertz, and Jesus

I am a Dallas Cowboy fan.  I was not even going to watch the Super Bowl until I heard Zach Ertz, a Philadelphia tight end, talk about his faith.

I am now rooting hard for him to win so God use that as another platform for people to hear about Jesus.

Here are four things Zach has done to follow Jesus.

Commit his life to Jesus.  He was baptized last March right before his wedding.

Making disciples is his most important job.

He is leading his family as the head of his house.

He is staying in the Word.

So Dads, if you want your son to see what a real man is ... watch the Super Bowl this Sunday. 

A real man not because he is a professional football player.

A real man because he gave his life to Jesus, he leads his family spiritually, he stays in Scripture, and he makes other disciples.

That is what a Christian man looks like.

I don't know Zach Ertz personally.  All I know about him is what I heard in a two minute video.

But I am now one of his biggest fans.  And it really has nothing to do with football.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

 

Your speech and your posts betray you ...

OK.  Some of the things I hear and read really bother me.  And not just because I may disagree with what is being said.  Sometimes I am offended by posts and things I hear that I actually agree with.

I am tired of people saying things under the guise of Christian conviction when all they do is talk, write, or complain about it.  But there are some who put their money and time where their mouth is.  And they are worth listening to, but since some are wearing me out ...

Here are a few thoughts and observations about your speech and posts.

If you are going to rant and complain about abortion and people who support abortion, stop it.  Unless you are writing checks to orphanages, doing foster care, working in pregnancy centers that are willing to provide options.  Or helping Christians with unwanted pregnancies to accept and believe in God's grace and forgiveness.  Or helping with appropriate repentance, not just guilt and condemnation. 
So unless you have dirty diapers in your hand, or a baby on your lap, or tears running down your cheeks from healing a broken spirit ... maybe you ought not to be so vocal.

If you are going to rant about immigrants and aliens in our country, you better be heavily involved in your church's refugee ministry.  Better not be changing school districts or moving neighborhoods.  Our church had a significant ministry for Bhutanese refugees.  Some of you hauled furniture, taught them to cook and drive, found them jobs, taught them English, studying the Bible with them, baptized them and well, invested your life in them.  Other churches have similar ministries. 
Unless you have been in their homes, had them in yours, shared coffee and tea, shared meals and celebrations, struggled with them in tears of frustration and tears of joy, well... maybe you ought to stop your blasting out your "I'm certain I'm right" talk.

For those of you who are vocal about how to -- or not to -- do evangelism, maybe you ought to just listen to yourself.  If your talk about missions and service starts with "I got so much out of this project...", maybe you are doing it for yourself instead of the people you claim to want to help.  And yes, I know that you did get a lot out of it, but please God do not let that be the reason we help people.  If not careful, we end up just using them to make us feel better.  So unless you have lived in a hard place, had a conversation with a non-believer about Jesus, poured your life into helping someone know the message of Jesus ... maybe you just ought not to talk about it.

And for those who want to blast the church for not treating people well, or for "running off" someone... be very careful.  Unless you have been down in the much and mire of broken lives, unless you have cried with those broken by sin, unless you have gently opened God's word for guidance and instruction, unless you have been there in the middle of the night... maybe you ought to dial it down a notch.

But for all you who are doing it.  God bless you.  Speak up.  I'll listen.  Even if I don't always agree, you have my deepest respect. 

So maybe this is why most of my rants and talking/posting is about helping people get into the Kingdom and keeping them there.  Because there are a lot of things I am not doing.  So I better be careful too.  After all, I do try to look in the mirror after I write these things.

And feel free to call me on it when I get self-righteous and arrogant about things with I am not willing to do myself.  Not because you disagree.  But because I putting my mouth somewhere my life won't go.



Thursday, January 11, 2018

 

The story of a body lost and a soul saved...

Betsy grew up in and around church, but due to a number of disappointments and hurts had never decided to fully commit to following Jesus.  She was 24 when she was baptized and I met her at a Hope for Life campaign in Florence, SC this past October.  Betsy had a 42-year-old cousin, Heather, who was in the hospital with liver and kidney failure.  Many of her health problems were related to a series of bad choices with various addictive behaviors.  Heather’s Mom contacted Betsy and Betsy’s Mom to see if they would come talk to Heather about Jesus.
 
I had just told the story of Legion from Mark 5 at the campaign so Betsy decided to just tell Heather his story.  Heather wanted to know if it was a real story.  Betsy assured her that it was and that Jesus could deliver Heather also.  She told Heather where to read the story for herself and promised to pray for her.  Over the next several weeks Betsy and her Mom talked about Jesus and tried to water the seed they had planted.

Yesterday I got an email from Betsy that Heather’s addictions had finally won the battle over her body and she died on December 27.
The good news.  Heather was baptized into Christ December 12. 

Desperate people fighting their demons.  And losing.  Caring family who shared stories of Jesus.  

A body lost but a soul saved.  Because someone cared enough to share a Jesus story with someone.

It was hard and scary for Betsy to share with Heather.  But God gave her the courage.

Maybe you know a Heather in your life.  God will give you the courage to tell them a Jesus story.

Thanks God for what your son did for Legion.  Thanks for what your son did for Heather.  And thanks for giving Betsy the courage to connect them all to you.  Give us that same courage.

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