Monday, August 30, 2010

A Hint of Good Things to Come...

An Inkling
This week’s offering is an attached You Tube video that we used to introduce our soon-to-be Associate Pastor, Sarah Marsh, to everyone at Sunday’s congregational meeting. The Search Team shared their enthusiasm for Sarah, but the congregation also got a feel for Sarah through having her speak for herself.
We thank God for his guidance through this search! If it’s like most things with God, he’s given us a hint of the good things he has in store – but only a hint.
Heeeere’s Sarah…

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The God of Heaven and Mirth

An Inkling
Last weekend Sarah and I took in “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage,” a marriage conference led by Mark Gungor.  It’s aptly named.  I’m one of those who cries when I laugh hard, and by the time we left I needed to wring out my handkerchief.
Mark has a marvelous comic gift, and of course marriage has no shortage of funny subjects, nor of hard truths that need to be spoken.  So Mark uses humor like Mary Poppins’ “spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go down.” 
But I think it’s more than that.  There’s something about truth itself that sounds of mirth.  That’s because the One who gives truth – indeed, who is the truth – is also mirth-full.  And we are made in his mirthful image!
Sadly, along with every other facet of God’s image in us, our mirth has been distorted by sin.  And so the heavenly laughter of delight gets twisted into a demeaning laughter of scorn.  Witness much of the humor in our culture, which derides and puts others down, pulling us all down in the process.  The humor of hell will be such a downer – forever.  But God’s kind of humor, even if the occasion is our own foibles and foolishness, lifts us up. 
Which reminds me again of Mary Poppins.  Do you remember Uncle Albert’s song, “I Love to Laugh”?  (Here’s the link - )  The more they laugh, the higher they float, which only increases the laughter.  Such will be the mirth of heaven, as we are all lifted up in the Lord’s joy.
Thanks be to God, that in Jesus Christ he redeems even our mirth!
Ha, ha, ha-lelujah!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Marriage Matters

An Inkling
Marriage was much on the mind last week as our extended family vacationed together at the lake.  One evening we celebrated three August anniversaries with a cake.  Numerous conversations anticipated Dorothy and Brandon’s October wedding, as I helped plan their service, and Sarah helped plan reception details, etc.  Then over the weekend my cousin, Tracey, remarried.  Rob is a gift to her in this season of life, and I know she is a gift to him.  So in a single week our family saw marriage anticipated, commenced anew, and celebrated.
We also saw marriage debated every time we turned on the news.  Our culture is entangled in a complex debate about the nature of marriage, using only the language of constitutional guarantees and individual rights.  Good luck with that! 
Marriage, as a gift of God, cannot be understood with legal paradigms alone.  We Christians have the challenge of adding our scripturally informed perspective to the cultural conversation – no simple undertaking in a nation that favors no one faith.
If we’re to gain a hearing, we must speak the truth in love.  It’s the love that wins a hearing for the truth.  We must also speak with humility.  It’s not as if we Christians either fully understand or perfectly practice marriage ourselves.  Witness the many broken marriages in the church.  And we must speak with grace, the very grace which gives promise to our marriages.
Might God use us to re-establish a biblically based understanding of marriage in our land?  I hope and pray so.  And in the meantime we can seek to live such marriages in our homes – to his glory and our joy.
Here’s to my bride!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sanity on Display

An Inkling
Sanity landed in the church house this week.  It’s down the hall from my office.  Actually, it doesn’t look like sanity – it’s noisy, chaotic, and fun.  It’s Vacation Bible School.
In contrast my office looks sane.  It’s certainly purposive.  The books are organized by category, with indexing that helps with sermons.  I have a calendar, a to do list, and a computer connected to a world of information.  In the quiet of my office, I can crank out the work.  Not so down the hall – at least not the office kind of work.
Jesus said, “Unless you come as a child, you’ll never enter the Kingdom.”  He spoke that word to adults who were purposive, who accomplished things.  Organizing life to accomplish worthy goals is a good thing.  But apparently, when it comes to entering the Kingdom, it’s not the key. 
Not everyone down the hall is a child.  There are a good many adults and teens serving in various roles.  For some tasks at church, it’s hard to get enough volunteers.  Not so VBS – plenty show up to help.  And these are people with organized lives, who accomplish things in their own realms.
What’s the draw?  I think it’s the different kind of sanity, on display as our children encounter Jesus.  Their simple responsiveness to his love and life displays the sanity of the Kingdom in ways that our ordered lives cannot.  It’s refreshing.  It breathes life back into the ordered patterns of adult living.  And it cannot be manufactured, no matter how well organized and purposive one is.  Kingdom life comes only as a gift.
Thanks, kids!