Thursday, August 31, 2017

Time for a Change

As the calendar roles over to September tomorrow, we know that fall is on the way. I appreciate the rhythms of life, like the changing of the seasons. We get to experience the changing seasons in North Carolina. If I were ever to live somewhere else, I would surely miss them.

I lived for a few years in South Georgia, where it feels like summer all the time. I have been to Uganda where they only have two seasons: wet and dry. But there seems to be no general consensus about when those seasons arrive, and there are multiple wet and dry seasons through the year. And the temperatures are about the same every day. Rarely does the mercury get below 70 or above about 88.

So, I look forward to this next season in NC. I want to go apple picking, camping, hiking. I want to cook another big stew in our cast iron pot. I want to have the neighbors over. And, of course, I want to watch some football.

God has blessed us with rhythms in life. Those rhythms are different in different places. But we all enjoy that predictability. It reminds us that God can be counted on. He's reliable. He's there. And he has placed us in a world that we can study and marvel at. This world pours forth the glory of God.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Questions for God

I'm thinking of creating a list of questions for God. Probably when I meet Jesus face to face I won't care about these issues. But from this point of view, I'm full of questions. There's a popular personality who calls himself "The Bible Answer Man." Sometimes I would like to be the Bible question man. There are so many good questions that arise out of God's word, and out of his creation.

Why does our harnessing of the earth's resources so often harm the earth?
How can people know with such certainty when another person is looking at them?
How does a baby know to look into her mother's eyes, and not her mouth or nose?
Why do reasonable people so often see things from such different perspectives?
Why is the meaning of life so hard to determine?
Why is the Bible such a rich tangle of truths?
How does love conquer all?

That's just a start for me.
What would be on your list of questions for God?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Pulling Together

The news out of Texas shows the devastation of a historic storm. The cleanup and rebuilding will last years. But there is an encouraging side. Story after story shows people sacrificing to help one another. All the lines of division are erased as together Texans fight for survival. The rest of the country is right there, giving, encouraging, coming to help.

Finally there is a big story in the national news where everyone is on the same side. We are pulling together. We really can pull together.

Maybe this spirit of cooperation can carry over, even a little bit, to our other national issues.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Justice and Sin

One of the chief causes of injustice is sin. I suppose you could argue that all injustice is the result of sin, such as greed, selfishness, pride, abuse of power. Some of us fail to love our neighbors by turning a blind eye to their problems. In doing so, we fail to obey the second part of the Great Commandment.

So, one key way to fight injustice is to repent of sin. The more we live in obedience to Christ, the more we conquer injustice.

It does seem, however, that people today are much more willing to point out the sins of others than they are to notice their own sins. I can point out your sin, but I can't repent for you. If you would just quit sinning, then the world would become that much more just. And if I quit sinning too, then justice takes another leap forward.

The key is for me to start with me, and for you to start with you. We all certainly need reminders to keep us (get us) in the repentance mode, but those reminders will be much better received when they come from humble sources. The louder and more obnoxious the voice telling me to behave, the more likely I am to ignore it.

But let me drill down further. I have secret sins, and so do you. Even those secret sins, the sins of the heart, will impede justice. But my sins aren't hurting anybody. Yes, actually, they are. The sins that appear to be victimless actually do hinder the work of God in the world.

Do you want to bring more justice to the world? Start with your own sin. Start with your own sins of the heart. Stop justifying and excusing your sin. Find in Jesus profound forgiveness. Find with his Spirit a desire to do and live as the Spirit directs. As he frees you to live abundantly, he can really work through you to bring justice.

Other people are to blame for this world's injustice. But so are you. Come to Jesus for forgiveness, for eyes to see, for a heart to care about both the oppressed and the oppressors.

No wonder this world needs justice so badly. Let's be part of the solution.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Devastation and Help

The devastation from Hurricane Harvey defies description. News outlets call the flooding unprecedented. Photos and videos show submerged cloverleaves and floating vehicles. As the rain continues to fall, we can only wait to see how severe the damage will be.

Soon will be the time to help with cleanup and rebuilding. This is the time to respond to our neighbors in need.

May God lead us to reach into our schedules, our wallets, and our hearts. May the kingdom of God rush in where the wind and waters have brought destruction.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hurricane Hunker-Down

Harvey is churning over the state of Texas now, dumping dozens of inches of rain. It was a powerful storm, Category 4, but its greatest damage likely will be the torrents of rain.

Last I heard, this storm has stopped moving. It is parked over Texas, pounding that dry state with more rain than we get here in a year. I imagine that streams will be rerouted when the storm finally leaves.

Sometimes crises come upon us like this hurricane:
  • Suddenly. Harvey was barely a tropical depression just a few days ago. When he hit the warm Gulf waters, he grew up quickly. Our smooth sailing in life can quickly be interrupted when life whips up a storm from nothing.
  • Lingering. A storm is bad enough, but for the storm to park over our lives--now that's painful. This is why the psalmists asks, "How long, O God?"
  • Untold damage. In life's storms, we may not be able to assess damage to our souls. We have to wait the storms out, trusting in God's protection, and waiting for the time to see the wounds that need to heal.

Life will bring us storms. Some storms will linger much longer than we expect. And so we learn to hunker down in Jesus. If we live as he teaches us, then the storms of life won't wash us away. We need to build our lives on the Rock.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Campfire Medicine

There is something about campfires that opens up conversation. On our Crossroads men's retreats, campfires are the highlight events. Even with the warm temperatures, we love our campfires.

As the daylight fades, we hear the bugs singing, and the noise in our souls subsides. We watch the sparks and hear the stories of our friends. We know that we are not alone. We know that God meets us at the campfire, wherever we are spiritually. We can see deeper into our own hearts. God is at work.

Campfires with friends are good medicine for the soul.