Sunday, June 19, 2016

All Gifts...

It's Father's Day. This morning before we left for church, Sandy and I were having a cup of coffee on our back porch. We sat quietly, sipping our favorite brew, and a young doe grazed along the southern bank of our pond.
It's been a wonderful afternoon. Sunlight drenches the pastures surrounding our home. The Red Sox won, and guests filed into our fledgling church this morning. After church, in the early afternoon, I received phone calls and FB posts from our children: Meagan on the west coast, Josh in Knoxville, and Justin on the east coast.

Later this week, Sandy and I will travel to Seattle to see our baby girl graduate with a Master Degree in counseling!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Here, Then Gone...

Unusual for this time of year, a cell of dark ominous clouds have blown in from the northwest. At their outer edges, and in complete contrast, are clear blue skies squished away by their invasion. Angry roars of thunder echo through the woods, and tree branches swirl in frantic swooshes. Wrinkled and pocked by lines of wind driven raindrops, the smooth complexion of the pond's face has disappeared.

Then, just like that, the dark clouds move on, and a blended array of soft grays and pinks and yellows, streaked with an occasional slash of lightning, are all that is left.   

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Reasoned, Explained, Proved, Persuaded.

And Paul went in, as was his custom, and three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead...and some of them were persuaded" ~ Acts 17: 2-4

Paul knew his audience held deeply ingrained beliefs. Entering a skeptical environment was customary for Paul. The Apostle was not naive, and was aware of the reception that often awaited. The message that Jesus lived, died, and rose again to redeem a lost world was hardly popular. Yet, undeterred, Paul patiently engaged listeners on their home-court for three Sabbaths. He reasoned, explained, and proved the necessity of Christ's sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection to atone for mankind's sin.

Were we to unpack the entire passage, we would see Paul's ability to communicate with hostile audiences. Valuable lessons can be learned. Without sugar coating the Good News, Paul modeled spiritual graciousness and maturity. The account in Acts 17 provides a crystal clear message--Overcoming objections to the Truth requires using reason, and explaining the Truth.

Today's Christ-follower live among cultures that hold deeply ingrained beliefs. Many of those beliefs are opposed to--dare I say it--the most basic Christian doctrines. Isn't there something holy and admirable about remaining conversationally engaged with those holding differing beliefs? Isn't there something spiritually courageous about navigating skeptical and hostile audiences with grace? Are those not indicators of a big step toward spiritual maturity, not a lack of it?

Rather than being bombastic, Paul chose patience,  reason, and explanation. Doing so, Paul brought his listeners to a proof they could not reasonably un-explain.

And some of them were persuaded.    

Monday, June 6, 2016

Green light!

Last July I took a nasty spill off my bicycle resulting in a full, right hip replacement. Four more surgeries required to re-route the ulnar nerve in my right arm and release pressure on the ulnar on my left arm. Carpal tunnel repair in both hands was also needed. To date, I haven't yet recovered feeling in four of my fingers--two on each hand--nor the edges of my palms and inside of my arms up to my elbows. My new hip healed in near record time--there have been no residual issue whatsoever!

Green Light...

I received the results back from a bone density scan, and I am good to go! Today, I begin the journey back to the full-body strength routine I have followed for nearly all of my adult years! High intensity--but low impact--cardio also begins today!

I'm sending out thanks to those who prayed for my recovery and checked in on my well-being. It's truly appreciated.

God wires us all with certain proclivities, and mine is the great joy of bringing my body, as well as my spirit into the condition I believe God intended. Physical activity has always been important in maintaining a balance between the physical and spiritual. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Despondent Responder

He [Jesus] said to them, which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out. ~ Matthew 12:11

Sunday eventually took the place of the Sabbath (Saturday) as the day of corporate worship for Christ-followers. During Christ's incarnation it was not so, and as was his custom Jesus was in a synagogue every Sabbath. But the synagogue was only a part of his spiritual worship, so he never let it stop him from doing the physical work his Father had assigned. This made religionists furious.

At least one facet of God's calling on the believer's life is that of a responder to people in crisis. As it was with Jesus, so it is with us, which day of the week those needs present themselves is irrelevant. Most people in a Christian's orbit will never darken the door of a church. But that doesn't matter. If, so to speak, one of those people fall in a ditch, responders are to lift them out. Broken people. Struggling people. Lonely people. Sick people. Dying people. Being such a caretaker can leave you exhausted, and spiritually out of breath.

Responders often have little evidence by which to measure their effectiveness unless they have met some sort of physical need. I think you know what I mean--It's hard to gauge the effect of being a listening ear or offering kind and redemptive words. Also, for the responder, stepping into and then out of devastating situations to disengage and recharge can be difficult and spiritually taxing.

Being called to respond can come in bunches. Perhaps you have been through such a stretch ministering to an unusual number of people whose world has been turned upside-down. Now, all of a sudden you as the responder find yourself to be the sheep in the pit. Not a depression in the earth. No, a depression in the soul. In such times the hope is that--at the very least--a friend comes to your aid. Someone who will reach down, take hold, and lift you up. Someone to go out of their way for you. That's what Jesus was getting at.

Question: Do you know your friends well enough to recognize when they have become a despondent responder? If not, why not?