Friday, March 29, 2013

Jesus Friday

Children don’t get it.  Why do they call it Good Friday?  I remember the explanations.  Yes, it was bad what they did to Jesus, but it was good that he died for our sins.  We celebrate the good day with black fabric draped over crosses.  We treat the good day with somber tones.

I don’t think adults get it either.  The cross is good, although it hurt.  Jesus suffered and blessed us through it.  Even for us, suffering can be good because through the pain God speaks.  The pain allows us to hear him.

The real good in the day is the person of Jesus.  He is truly good.  There is none good but God alone.  Good Friday is the day when Jesus fulfilled his goodness. 

Maybe we should call it Jesus Friday.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Modern Marriage

Human arrogance amazes me.  Sincere, well meaning, compassionate people seem to believe that we can change the definition of marriage with governmental action.  We can pass a piece of legislation, have it approved by the executive powers, review it with the court system, and voilĂ !  Marriage is now something different than it was before.

If marriage is nothing but human convention, we can shape it as we like.  Does anyone consider that marriage may actually transcend human preferences?

But now marriage is what we say it is.  Truth is what we say it is.  And governments get to make the calls.

It sounds scary to me.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Trajectory: Setting Direction for Life

Everybody is headed somewhere.  It makes sense to head somewhere on purpose.  We plan our projects and vacations, but somehow we don’t get around to planning for … life.

Our new series beginning this Sunday is about Trajectory, setting direction for life. 

This Sunday, we are talking about Destination.  Everybody’s life trajectory points to their destination.  Every day we get closer to that destination.  If we do what we are made for, we reach the best destination with our lives.  (Luke 9:51)

On Easter Sunday, we will look at the end of Jesus’ trajectory in his earthly life.  He Nailed It.  When he breathed his last, he had fulfilled the Father’s plan for him.  He lived a perfect life, and he did it for us.  When he completed his work, he made the way for us to experience a relationship with God.  His sacrifice of himself paid the price for our sins.  By receiving his forgiveness, and turning away from our sin, we can have a relationship with God, both now and in eternity.  (Luke 38-46)

For some of us, a life in relationship with God looks like a Long Shot.  On April 7, we look at a tax collector (shady, sneaky, bad company) who becomes a disciple of Jesus.  When Jesus called him, it changed the direction of his life.  (Luke 5:27-32)

There must be A Better Path.  Ever think that?  A guy named Zacchaeus felt that way.  He was searching for meaning in life, and went out of his way to catch a glimpse of Jesus.  Yes, he had to climb a tree to see Jesus, because he was so short!  Finding a better path takes some work.  That’s the story for April 21.  (Luke 19:1-10)

Jesus can show up in your life and change everything.  He can make the difference between Life and Death.  On April 28, we’ll look at a widow who was burying her only son.  She expected a life trajectory of poverty and heartache.  Jesus showed up and, well, her life was never the same.  (Luke 7:11-17)

Where is life headed for you?  Take a look at your Trajectory with us!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finding Your Voice

Blogger and platform guru Michael Hyatt offers advice on creating your own presence on the web.  Find your voice.  Just start writing.  Start delivering.  You soon learn what you love to write about.

There’s only one way to find your voice:  use it.  I, for one, love to write, and I constantly think of things to write about.  I just have a hard time making it happen.  Writing is rarely urgent, so other responsibilities tend to crowd it out.  Deadlines help.  They remind me that inspiration is optional.  I have to produce.  Some of the world’s best writers tell about the hours they dedicate to writing.  They treat writing like a job.  They sit down and make it happen.

I love writing when it flows.  Other times it feels like a chore, but something I just have to do.  Like anything worthwhile, writing takes work.  Through writing, I can find my voice.  Time will tell if I have something to say.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Now We Know Everything

Never before in the history of the world has there been a time when information on any subject was available in seconds, at the touch of a button from one machine.  In ages past, such a machine was beyond imagination.  Anyone with access to all the world of knowledge would have had incredible power. 

Today, virtually everyone in western culture has this access.  And we take it for granted.   If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Human/Technology Experiment

The incandescent light bulb changed our world.  Society embraced the new invention.  As we adapted, darkness no longer stopped the show.  Now people can work and play any time, day or night.  It is hard for us to imagine that the setting of the sun would significantly alter most activities.  The invention changed our habits and patterns of thinking.

As we embrace new technologies now, we find ourselves in the midst of a grand, though accidental, experiment.  The new technologies connect us with the world through the internet wherever we go.  We are only beginning to write the rules and reap the consequences of our constant connection.

In the days of the Waltons, the telephone was down the road at Ike Godsey’s store.  It was used only to convey important information, from people far away.  The only interruptions came in person.  The pace was slower, and people had time to focus on writing news stories, cooking meals, and sawing lumber.  Friends and families connected in meaningful relationships.

Now with Skype and email we connect immediately with people literally around the world—and we think nothing of it.  No one ever speaks of making a long distance phone call.  But we live on constant alert for a ringtone or vibration.  Just a few hours without checking email or phone messages can feel like an eternity.

I wonder what this constant connection does to our society and our souls.  Groups of  teens are often seen with heads bowed in reverence to their mobile devices.  Adults are quickly catching on and joining the “conversation.”  We now live with divided attention.  The rules of etiquette have not been defined.  Every conversation is subject to interruption.  We multitask while we drive, work, and visit.  No bit of information is more than a few screen touches away.  Or I can talk to Siri, and she will try to obey my every command.  

We cannot conceive that someone would be out of reach.  We just call his phone.  If he does not answer, we try again.  Or we will call the phone of someone else with him.

Our society is more disjointed in personal relationships, as we are constantly interrupted.  Some adults are slow to accept the new normal, and conflict arises with the rude behavior of teens.  Learning and remembering information is becoming passĂ©—just Google it when you need it.  Handwriting is a dying art.  Life is now hyper-documented.  Sacred moments are captured.  Mundane moments are recorded.  Sometimes we miss the moment, because we want to post it or tweet it.  We miss out on life because we want to share it with the world.

It is easy to see much of the societal impact of technology.  Less obvious is the impact on our souls.  Being on constant alert for status updates and texts alters our state of rest.  Something may be more important than listening to you.  I will not know until I check.  Years ago, the home phone might ring a few times every day.  Otherwise, we lived without interruption until a neighbor came to visit.  Now we live on edge, with new information coming at us many times every hour or every minute.

The spiritual practice of rest becomes more difficult.  Dare we go for an entire day without checking our connections?  We pay for it later with a stack of emails in our inboxes, forced to dig out, reply, read and absorb.  We have to scroll through a whole day of Facebook posts, liking, commenting, sharing.  What is the cost of this connection?  It seems to produce a disconnection with God.  Yeah, but my Bible is on my phone.

This week I learned that I can watch TV on my phone.  All I needed was an app.  Now my phone is a TV, a GPS, a computer, a still camera, a video camera, a compass, a game console, a calculator, a voice recorder, a flashlight, a price scanner, a blog machine, a research tool, a message sender, and a photo album.   With such a powerful tool on my hip, it is no wonder I pay so much attention to it.

I heard about a college professor who lost his cool when he saw a cell phone sitting silently on a student’s desk.  Maybe he overreacted.  Maybe he senses a technology-borne disease. 

Our electronic connections are changing us.  We do not really know how.  Nearly all of us are subjects of the experiment.  We will have to see how it turns out.