Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pastors are not Political Leaders

I haven't listened to this whole sermon, but his clip is great. A hardy 'Amen!'

Monday, June 25, 2012

Song of the Week

Queensryche was one of my favorite bands in the early to mid 90s. I liked the progressive heavy metal - sounded like Pink Floyd crossed with some Iron Maiden.

Queensryche, "Revolution Calling"


Revolution Calling by Queensryche on Grooveshark

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spiritual Lessons from Baseball, Part 3

We absolutely love the watching our kids play ball. That's not to say the season doesn't get a little frustrating at times - it gets hot, the schedule seems to change frequently (especially this year in the recreational league), etc.  The most frustrating part of having three kids playing baseball on four different teams is having to constantly make decisions about what you're going to miss, and what the kids are going to miss.

For example, one of Jacob's games fell on the same night as an end of the year school program. One of Caleb's games was on the same night as the meeting for kids who wanted to play an instrument in band next year. Jake's had to miss games for one team to be at games for the other. (So far, Luke's social calendar includes baseball only, so not too many conflicts for the five year old).

These decisions are hard to make...Jake is committed to both teams. He hates to shaft one for the other. He's committed to his school and class, so hates to miss something there. Caleb loves his team and hated to miss a game to do the band stuff. But sometimes you are left with impossible situations - you aren't choosing between good and bad, but between good and good. You have competing commitments.

To me, this is just a small illustration of one of the big challenges of living the Christian life outside of Eden. Think about all the things that compete for your time, money, energy, etc. Most of them are pretty good. For example, how much time should you give to Bible studies, small groups, church services, etc. Lots? But in doing so you are cutting down on the time you can spend in the community, forging relationships, being salt and light, etc. Hmmm. On the other hand, if you short change your own spiritual growth and the church, will you loose your saltiness? Or take money for instance...should you give to the missionary who asks for support, or to the youth missions trip, or the relief agency in town?

Few of us will ever likely find ourselves in the situation Rahab did when she was forced to lie to protect the Israelite spies - a situation where to commitments/values came into sharp conflict. We are to value life and truth. But, in a broken world, we will often be forced to to make tough decisions about which values and commitments will trump others. Will we be a good employee even when our boss requires us to lie? Will we honor our parents when they demand we act dishonorably? Etc.

Frankly, we just aren't wise enough to see our way clear of a lot of these situations. Yet. We'll make mistakes, poor evaluations...we'll sin even when we're trying to do good. Thank God for his patience and grace. Thank God that he will eventually put the world to right so these situations will no longer ensnare us.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Song of the Week

My kids got me the new Springsteen album for Father's Day. I love it, here's one of my favorite tracks:

Springsteen, 'Rocky Ground'


Rocky Ground by Bruce Springsteen on Grooveshark

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spiritual Lessons from Baseball, Part 2

Yesterday Jake's travel team went out to Bloomfield for a double header. It was a long hot day, but the boys did incredibly well. The played up a level - we're a team of 7's & 8's with two 9 yr. olds, and we played teams with 8's and mostly 9's. In addition, it was the first time we had ever done kid pitch (vs. coach pitch, which usually begins at the 9yr. old level). We won both games, which was amazing.  But, something hit me yesterday - a parallel between how we often encourage and coach kids in sports and how we coach people in their spiritual lives.

Jake was the first kid to take the mound for us. Everyone - coaches, parents, teammates - was incredibly encouraging. The most oft repeated phrase, from the kids and parents (including me)  was "just throw strikes". He did. But I doubt he went up to the mound thinking, "should I throw strikes or balls?"  The question wasn't a matter of volition, but ability. He, and every other pitcher, wants to throw strikes. But how? Sometimes one of the coaches would offer helpful advice - adjust your sights, finish your pitches, etc. (thanks Matt). But most of us just offered the same cliche piece of wisdom - throw strikes.

It happens at every level, from the older kids to the tballers, and on the other end of the deal too. Just hit the ball. No kidding - but how?

How often do we adopt the 'just do it' mentality or offer this simplistic wisdom when it comes to spiritual matters?  More than I would probably like to admit. To the person struggling with porn, we say, 'just quit it'. To the person who's afraid to share their faith, we urge, 'just be bold'.

Granted, sometimes we need to be reminded of the simple things. The kid whose over-thinking every pitch and stressed about where to put the ball into play may need to hear, 'just do it'.  But the kid who's walked the bases loaded needs more than that. The kid who's struck out 9 times in a row needs more insight than just hit the ball. Similarly, the person who is indulging in sin or just being lazy may need the reminder to 'just ___________." But rare are those instances.

More often, as spiritual friends, we need to have better answers, or admit we don't. Put away the cliches. Remember, and remind others, that we can't 'just do it.' We can't do what we called to do. Don't give the religious 'pull yourself up by your own bootstraps' mentality get a foothold.  Moralism is a friend of phariseeism, but not of genuine faith or holiness (holiness without faith is, after all, a sham). Remember, you need God's provision - his grace, his power, his Spirit -  to obey God's commands.

So, step in and help the brother dissect where their spiritual swing is off - where is God's grace being offered but not made avail of? Where are the hic-ups in their delivery - where are the relying on self instead of Spirit. Most importantly, how can we abide more in Christ, since without this "you can do nothing."

Don't pull a Newhart:

Song of the Week

Going with some old school Rock n Roll


AC/DC, "TNT"

  TNT by AC/DC on Grooveshark

Friday, June 08, 2012

Belated Song of the Week

Come All Ye Pining by Red Mountain Church on Grooveshark