Sunday, October 23, 2011

Money Talks

An Inkling
Here is the third of three Money Talks I gave in worship the last three Sundays.  I was out of town for this one, so I put it on video.  The dear St. Giles folks can’t escape me. Ha!
Thanks for your partnership in being stewards of what God has entrusted to us!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Sight for Sore Eyes

An Inkling
Is that a real photo, or is it just my imagination?  Did a black President really speak at the dedication of a memorial on the Washington Mall for Martin Luther King?  What a change in the span of my lifetime!  I’m proud of my nation this week.
This is a hard season in the United States – a stubborn recession, political dysfunction, street demonstrations, and a record-length war.  We love our nation, and we like to trumpet its strengths.  But honestly, most of us are worried about our land, and genuine pride has faded.  
In 1964, when I was nine, my family moved to Huntsville, Alabama.  My parents had taught us all along that all people are equal, and that we weren’t to use the “N word.”  But I surely did hear that and worse all around me.  And I didn’t know how to process the overflowing anger I observed.
In the spring of 1968 I was in the 7th grade.  Our schools had been integrated by then, and about a quarter of my class was African American.  I remember the day after Dr. King had been shot someone mentioned the topic, and a lot of my classmates started cheering.  Some of the black students had come to school that day, and of course this was horrifying and humiliating for them.  And though I didn’t join in the cheering, I felt humiliated myself to be part of a people who would cheer such a crime, thereby stomping on some fellow students who had already been laid low.  I don’t recall trying to do anything about it – I was too shy.  I just wished I could be anywhere but there.  And I’m sure my feelings were tiny compared to my black classmates.
Thus my question:  did I really see that photo of a black President dedicating a monument to Martin Luther King?  When you stop to think about the broad sweep of history, and the halting way things change, it is truly amazing that our nation has come this far.  We have a long ways to go right here in Richmond.  But what a satisfying sight.  I’m proud of my nation this week.
And I’m proud to serve the same Savior who inspired Dr. King.  May our love for Jesus and the people Jesus loves be used by him to break down even more barriers!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Of Silicon and Saints

An Inkling
It seems like everyone is reflecting this week on the significance of Steven Jobs’ life and work.  I won’t add to that.  But I have been thinking about how church life and ministry have changed with computers.  There is a whole generation who can hardly believe we had no computers when I began my ministry 30 years ago!
So here are some simple observations:
  • Spell checker makes me look much smarter than I am.
  • A google search makes me feel smarter too.  With it I can find any quote or story, even with just a few words.
  • Email and google docs allow for brainstorming between meetings.
  • Big filing cabinets are becoming relics.  We can store a “Library of Congress” worth of information in a shoebox now.
  • Our local ministries can have global effects.  It’s surprising to see which countries connect with our website.
  • People seeking a church now know much more about us before they ever enter the doors.  Thus the import of a good website.
  • Broad communication is much simpler, quicker, and cheaper.  (Alas, the poor Post Office!)  It’s especially wonderful to know that so many are immediately networked for prayer needs.
  • We can now have “face to face” conversations with our mission partners abroad via Skype.  That’s good for both heart and mind – on both ends of the link.
  • We can forward the latest dire economic forecasts and guaranteed miracle cures to everyone on our address lists.  (Oh well.  It’s not all upside!)
Like any other part of our fallen world, bright spots have their shadow side, and that’s certainly true for computing.  May the Lord who redeems our creativity give us guidance in how best to use these amazing tools to his glory!
And RIP, Steven Jobs,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Growing Things Change

An Inkling
“Things are changing!”  “And you were expecting….?”
Such is the answer I can imagine God giving to our complaints about change.  Oh, you say you don’t complain about change?  Listen carefully to your own prayers.  If yours are like mine, many of your requests have as their subtext a basic resistance to change.  As we ask God for this or that, our urgency often arises not from a desire to see things better than they are, but from a deep-seated desire to avoid change.  And from what I can tell from the scripture, God is not inclined to grant such requests.
We have plenty of change about which to pray.  Our families change as children grow and elders die.  The careful plans we make for our financial security are shaken by erratic markets and world events.  Our health changes.  Our circle of friends changes.  The patterns of our life together at St. Giles change.  The world scene is rapidly changing.  And on and on.  Thus our prayers of alarm to God.
Because of our knee-jerk resistance to change, we must remind ourselves why the Lord uses change in our lives.  I once heard John Huffman offer this simple seven point reminder:
  • Healthy things grow.
  • Growing things change.
  • Change challenges us.
  • Challenge forces us to trust God.
  • Trust leads to obedience.
  • Obedience makes us healthy.
  • Healthy things grow.
Change in itself is not good news.  But change guided by the Constant One, whose love and wisdom direct us toward growth, is good news indeed!  Count it an adventure!  I thank God for your partnership as we together see what God has next for us.
Ready or not….