Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Las Vegas

Earlier today my mom read this and sent it to me. I liked it and thought I would put it up here for everyone else. It's pretty thought provoking.

Splinters in the soul
Remember the "What Happens Here Stays Here" Las Vegas campaign? You're going to be seeing a lot more of it in the near future, according to today's Wall Street Journal. The city has tried in recent years to lure you with promises of affordability in a recession, but no more. Now we're going to be told that we can "enjoy some forbidden fun, or indulge in extreme behavior like conspicuous consumption," according to the Journal.

A few years ago, our family stayed a night in Las Vegas en route to a vacation in California. We'd never seen the city, and wondered what we'd missed. Turns out, Vegas isn't much interested in catering to a Baptist preacher. I don't know anything about "shooting craps" except that it doesn't sound like something they teach at the seminary. I was equally lost watching the other ways people lose money. For a neophyte like me, it was less fun than a monthly deacons' meeting (something I never thought I'd say).

But I am interested in their old/new slogan. The city can promise that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I'm doubtful. Unless they have invented a way to purge memory banks when we cross the city limits, I'm pretty sure they suffer from the law of unintended consequences like the rest of us.

In Numbers 32, the people of Israel are preparing to cross the Jordan River and take their Promised Land, but some of them want to pitch tents and build cities where they are. Their warriors are willing to help the rest of the army conquer the land, but they intend to settle in their current circumstances. Moses gives them permission, so long as their men fight as promised. But if they don't, "you will be sinning against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out" (v. 23). What he said to them, he said to us.

I have learned the hard way that there is no such thing as secret sin. In four churches I served over 25 years as a pastor, I watched as friends struggled to make peace with their past. Private thoughts and personal transgressions are like splinters in the soul. We can ignore them for a while, but the longer they remain, the more they fester. One of my students at Southwestern Seminary nearly died from a blood infection resulting from an unattended wood splinter in his thumb. I've seen the same thing happen to marriages, families, and ministries. What happens where you are today, won't stay there.

The good news is that our Father in heaven is ready to forgive all we confess and forget all he forgives (Jeremiah 31:34). Where has guilt found you today? Name that sin, repent of it, and ask God to forgive it. When guilt pushes on that splinter again, claim the fact that it is gone and God is gracious. Do this every time guilt returns, until it gives up and you are free. Why not start now?

This is taken directly from Dr. James Denison's

Monday, May 11, 2009

Off the Field Antics

The Dodgers and Giants are teams that don't like each other too much. This point was made rather boldly last night as Dodger Casey Blake thought it necessary to taunt his opposing pitcher, Brian Wilson. Why was this such a big deal? Well partly because this is the biggest Dodgers news since the Manny suspension, but also partly because the nerve that Blake struck with Wilson was deeply emotional.

Brian Wilson has performed a sign with his arms after finishing his work on the mound for a while now, so my sources say. This arm-crossing gesture is done as a tribute to his late father and as a sign of his faith. Well, last night after Casey Blake took one of Wilson's pitches past the outfield wall he also emulated Wilson's gesture - no doubt poking fun at him. Wilson, after the game, was upset and speechless. His emotions were running wild.

Is Wilson justified in being so upset? Is Blake really a bad guy after doing this? This makes me wonder how many times I get my feathers unnecessarily ruffled for a mindless joke. I question whether or not it does me any good to get all worked up over the times when other people don't take me seriously. Is it prideful of me to allow such obscure events to control my attitude and impact my response? I think I've got to overcome these little, obscure things and rise above it. Sure, some words and actions may hurt and sting to the core. But ultimately they should never get close to upsetting us. If this was the case then I think Christ would've had more to say when his accusers hit Him in the face, plucked out His beard, and spit in His eyes. He understood that His faith was far more important than their insensitive actions and, maybe, so should we.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

You Only Live Once

So there's this advertisement not far from my apartment that reads, "You only live once. Make sure it's enough." The product they're trying to sell is Dos Equis. I'm not real sure why that statement is supposed to make me want to buy beer, but it does give me something worthwhile to think about.

When I think about "living enough" many ideas come to mind: Am I actively pursuing my life dreams? Am living without regrets? Am I taking risks? Am I being the husband I promised I'd be? Am I living a life that glorifies Christ? That last question, to me, is by far the most important.

Or maybe let's look at the way Rick Warren puts in his most famous work The Purpose Driven Life: "The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. It is the reason for everything that exists, including you." With his words in mind the question now becomes, "Am I living to show the the glory God?"

In order for me to accurately show God's glory I would first have to know God. Check. Next, comes the part that is less comfortable. In order for me to show the world how incredible God is I must loose sight of the lame person that I am. As long as my eyes are selfishly fixed on me I'll never see God's glory much less translate it for the world to see. This is a place that few people linger, though we should. We should spend diligent time in the arena wrestling with ourselves if only to destroy our pride and ego's. After that mission is complete (which it never is) can we successfully move forward with honorable duty of making much of the one true King.

How is God glorified? Glad you asked. God is glorified the most in us when we are satisfied the most in Him. At least that's what Piper has to say on the subject. And I like his simplification. The quest now rests with us being supremely satisfied in Him, His love, His works and making Him known to the world. After all, He is the world's most interesting Man/God/Spirit.

Are you living enough?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mom, Dad, and Fishing

With the warming of the weather and cabin fever swelling up inside I keep thinking back to how much I'd love to be at home wetting a hook. This office with its shelves of books becomes less and less appealing as the school year slugs along. Don't get me wrong, I've loved the new experiences and adventures, but there are times when all I can think about is being back in the place where part of me still lives.

Growing up in Georgia was incredible! As a kid, my parents encouraged me to "get out from in front of the TV" and get outside. I often took their advice. Whether it was playing baseball, soccer, football, hunting, exploring or whatever else I just loved being outdoors. One of my favorite things to do growing up was fishing. My parents had a small pond that was semi-secluded where I could get off by myself and cast away the day. Sometime close to the age of 11 they started paying me for doing little chores around the house. At the end of a busy Saturday I'd earn a few bucks and head off for the bait and tackle shop just down the road. After about 5 minutes on my bike I was drooling over the fancy lures that lined both of the aisles - just like I hoped the fish would later drool over them. I typically exhausted my allowance on lures that were the most colorful, biggest, or most expensive, surely they were the best. After tying one on to the end of my line I rarely achieved success. Instead, within 20 minutes I'd be halfway up a tree chasing the $4 spinner bait I had worked all day for. My casting skills were about as good as my lure selection. With maybe 1 or 2 fish I'd proudly walk back home and show off my catch of the day to mom. She always ohh'd and ahhh'd over the little things, making sure I know how proud she was. Dad, on the other hand, was more concerned with making sure I cleaned the slimy fish so they didn't go to waste. With his help we cleaned the fish together while the mosquitos cleaned us. The next day my skin was red and itchy with the poison ivy that covered the same tree guilty of snagging my expensive lures - but mom knew how to take care of that, too. I doubt I'll ever forget those boyhood summers spent around the small pond. And though the fish were never really big enough to boast, my memories of home are never too small to forget.