Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Like No Other

An Inkling
I discovered afresh this morning just how good the Bible is, as I was reminded yet again that its riches, far from being exhausted, just keep going deeper.  There is no other book like it in that regard.  And that’s yet one more reason why I believe God inspired its writing.
The reminder came as I was reading in Andy Crouch’s new book, Playing God, and its exposition of John 2 and Exodus 20.  I know those passages cold.  I’ve studied, translated, preached, taught, and discussed them scores of times.  I really do know them cold.  And yet today there was something more – much more – to be received.
Indeed, as I thought about this, I realized that I’ve been a serious student of the Bible for 40 years now.  When the Lord graciously filled me with his Spirit at age 18, one of the first changes I noticed was a sudden hunger for the scripture.  I had read it dutifully, if sporadically, while growing up.  But from then on, I’ve been a diligent scripture student, and not so much from duty as from desire. 
This is no virtue.  It’s more Pavlovian than that.  The rewards are so regular and so good that God’s gift of desire has only grown.  I should check to see if I’m salivating.
It’s not that reading the Bible is extraordinary every day.  Most days it’s quite ordinary, and yet it’s always nourishing.  But today’s meal became a feast, complements of chef Crouch.  His book is more than worth a read.  These are not the only two passages for which he opens whole new vistas of insight.
If you’re a student of the Bible, you may have had this experience too – coming to a passage that you know cold, and by God’s grace having whole new insights emerge.  And judging from past experience, even today’s insights have not exhausted the wealth of those passages.  It just makes me hungry for more of the book like no other.
Come and dine!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Simple Pleasures

An Inkling
Both simple pleasures and the capacity to delight in them are God’s gifts.
Here are some simple pleasures I’ve enjoyed in recent days:
  • The exquisite ice dancing of Meryl Davis and Charlie White that so richly deserved the gold medal.
  • The chocolate dessert Sarah made with Kahlua in it.
  • Jeff Hummel’s fugue prelude.
  • The simple victories of two grand daughters learning in the same week proper potty patterns (some pleasures are rather earthy).
  • Reading Andy Crouch’s new book, Playing God (it’s even better than its reviews).

How’s that for an array?  They don’t match at all, except that they brought delight, and that both the pleasures themselves and the capacity to delight in them are ultimately gifts from God.
When we delight in simple pleasures we mirror the One in whose image we’re made.  Check chapter one in The Book.  God took pleasure in the work of each day’s creation.  And when he made us in his image, he included that capacity.  What a gift!
What are your pleasures today?  You were literally made to delight in them – and in the One who has given it all.  Your delight brings him delight.  You’re one of his simple pleasures.
That’s delightful!


Monday, February 10, 2014

The Joy of Grandfathering

An Inkling
We called him Pop.  He was my maternal grandfather.  We’d see him a couple of times a year when we made our family pilgrimage to San Angelo, Texas.  Hoping that I would follow in his golfing footsteps, Pop gave me a set of used golf clubs when I was thirteen.  I tried my hand at it, but I never really took to his golfing passion.
I did, however, take to his perverse sense of humor, which was always on display at the family table.  There I took careful mental notes as he fired off one bad pun after another.  My tendencies to the same vice have deep family roots. 
I also remember the great anticipation with which my brother and I awaited the crowning event of every meal.  After dessert, as sure as clockwork, Pop would belch, and my grandmother would say, “Oh George!”  And he would respond, “Sign of a fine meal.”  My brother and I would just about bust a gut trying to stifle giggles, which was made all the harder by the nonplussed look on our mother’s face – she who was trying valiantly to corral similar tendencies in her sons.
Many were the gifts provided by my parents, but they were different than those provided by Pop.  For that matter, the gifts Pop gave his own children were different from those he gave us.  Parents have to tend to business.  Someone has to teach the little devils manners, cleanliness, discipline, and priorities.  And since parents major in such business matters, then grandparents get to major in delight.  Grandparents delight in their grandchildren, which adds a delightful element to their times together.
Our emotional and intuitive starting place with God is greatly shaped by our parents, for good and for ill.  The “ill” part of that is greatly ameliorated by grandparents, who lend parents a much needed hand in planting God’s kind of delight deep in the hearts of children.
We now have four grandchildren, with two more on the way.  They call me Pop.  And I’m trying to live up to my name.
Mamas beware,


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Synergy Plus

An Inkling
You’ve seen it happen.  It’s what multiplies the ingenuity of a brain-storming session, the power of a basketball team, and the creativity of a jam session.  It’s synergy. 
The dictionary defines synergy as: “the interaction of two or more agents so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.”  We get it, not so much because of the definition, but because we’ve seen it happen.  And “happen” is the right word, because synergy isn’t something you can program. 
It “happened” wonderfully well this past weekend.  On Friday and Saturday our elders gathered with those from Christ Church at Richmond Hill for our annual retreat.  Then on Sunday our congregations gathered for worship.  Dana Allin, the top leader for our new denomination, was present to lead both.
When we gather in the name of Jesus and pray for his Spirit to unite us, “happened” doesn’t quite explain how the synergy came.  It was truly a gift from God, an answer to prayers for the retreat and the worship service.
Even without the Spirit’s presence we could well have had some synergy.  We had an interesting blend of gifts:  Dana’s, along with those of Christ Church and St Giles.  But we had synergy plus – the whole not only greater than the sum of the parts, but alive with the Spirit’s presence and power.  That’s not something we can plan.  But God did, and he gave it.
In our new denominational home, with partners like Dana and Christ Church, I think we’re going to see more of this kind of synergy plus!  And the thanks go to the One who can make even synergy better.