Thursday, January 26, 2017


     When I was a kid a whole bunch of neighborhood kids would play tag. We'd run ourselves ragged chasing each other around and it was fierce! Nobody wanted to be "it" but in the game of tag somebody is always it. Someone was always on the offensive (chasing) and someone was always on the defensive (dodging and weaving). At times we could avoid getting tagged but everyone was "it" eventually. And then, the pursuer became the pursued. Whenever we got weary from the chase we could enter that magical place called "base."
     While standing at base breathing heavily from exhaustion we had no worries! We could rest there and relax. And sometimes, our "enemy" would wander over and have a casual conversation with us at base! And for a moment all that rivalry, competition and relentless back and forth was suspended. We were just two kids standing around together catching our breath. But as soon as we stepped off that base the never ending game called tag was back on. No one evers wins in just goes on and on and on.
     Our current political climate reminds me a lot of playing tag. The rivals are always pressing, always pursuing, always trying to tag the other side. And it goes on and on and on. No one ever wins. Parties take turns attacking and being attacked. In contrast with the good-spirited competition of tag; politics is mean-spirited rhetoric, bullying, fear-mongering and spin....FROM ALL SIDES. I sometimes find myself asking "where is base?"
    Every Sunday I gather with people from all walks of life at my church. We have young and old, blue collar and white collar, middle class and poor, and a whole variety of ethnic backgrounds. We have people who are passionate about politics and opinionated on current events. Monday through Saturday many of these people are tagging and getting tagged. But Sunday, for one hour we come to "base". We sing songs of encouragement. We pray. At communion we remember we are all deeply flawed and yet loved by God. Instead of railing about what's wrong with everyone else, we study God's Word to see where we need improvement. We stand around with other people who are trying to catch their breath. It's just one precious hour and then...back into the fray. If you need to catch your breath this week, whatever your politics, you might just try your local church. Just got tagged, gotta go!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 164

1 Corinthians 12:26 says this about the body of Christ: "If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad." I saw this in action the last couples days. We have had a man who was homeless come into the church and our people rallied around him to get him on his feet. We had a kid without transportation who is headed to Bible college and 3 of our men bought him a bike. The other day one of our guys (who is my age) completed his GED and our whole small group called one by one to congratulate him. That sort of thing shouldn't be strange in Christ's church...that's just how we operate as the body.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Psalm 1-8

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 163

We're connected. We may not like that but it's true. It's very common for people to say, "I don't need the church to be a Christian." That's an exercise in missing the point. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior you ARE the church. And being counted among those who belong to Christ's church should at least be an honor for Christians! We'd expect our critics to run down the church, but not the Christians! Being part of the church is something that the Father has given to those who receive his Son Jesus. It's our blessing. It's our privilege. It's our strength and our joy. It's not always easy I suppose and not always fun...but we are the church.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 38-42

Monday, June 11, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 162

Some days don't just don't go very well. Yesterday was one of those days.(At least it started that way.) There have been times in my life that a bad day turned into a bad week. That seems a bit over dramatic to me in retrospect. There are times when I've wanted to quit my job because of a bad day...not quit ministry just go to one of those "problem free churches". (I know they're out there somewhere!) Bad days come. But bad days also go. Today I awoke and the birds were singing, the sun was shining, and I got to ride a 50cc scooter to work. Vroom. Vroom. Today's is a good day, yesterday is behind. "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort." (2 Cor 1:3)

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 35-37

Sunday, June 10, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 161

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."
C. S. Lewis

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 32-34

Saturday, June 9, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 160

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 "Young people,it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. 10 So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless."

At least 10 seniors in our church are graduating this weekend. We've know it was coming for years...after all you don't go to school forever. But I've watched from the outside, while their parents watching more closely, seeing them march slowly toward the magical age of adulthood. Most of them can drive cars, many have jobs, and most are making plans for some type of college education. Some will stake their independence and never move home again. Others will have a delayed departure and still others may decide that home suites them just fine. Some will become the quiet workers behind the scenes and some people of influence. Some will go on to hold many degrees, some will have money, some will not. They'll have families of their own and watch their kids slowly grow and make their own way. And so life goes on. My prayer and my hope is that Jesus is the foundation of their life. I pray that the values their parents have taught them, the testimony of Christ's church has given, the power of the Scripture they've learned, and the presence of God's Spirit will sustain them. I pray that they will walk in faith, and lead others in faith. That they legacy of their faith has just begun. Congratulations seniors...go walk with Jesus!

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 28-31

Friday, June 8, 2012

He Must Increase - Day 159

I heard a teaching some time last year on the subject of "rest." Rest is a principle that is deeply rooted in God's people and God's word but is conspicuously absent from American Christianity. The teaching about the Sabbath is about rest. Heaven is described as "God's rest". When people died in the OT they were "rested" with their fathers. So why don't we talk about rest? Probably because we stink at it. Probably because resting sounds lazy to our hyperactive American minds. Probably because believing in rest would require us to cut out softball, X-box, rotary club, golfing, the annual whatever meetings of the whatever club, and step off at least one committee at church. Rest sounds like some exotic foreign language to us.

Here's a couple of quick thoughts to chew on regarding rest...really roll these around:
1. Rest is healthy. Can any psychologist, philosopher, physician, scientist, or politician disagree? Really?
2. Rest is a gift from God. Jesus taught that the Sabbath was for man, and not man for the Sabbath. That means the rest wasn't one more thing to enslave people, but a gift for their benefit.
3. You don't need to earn a gift. It's a gift. You don't have to justify, rationalize, explain, or earn your rest.

Listen to the things people say about rest..."I'm taking some time off I worked a million hours last week." They don't want people to think they're lazy or unproductive so they have to demonstrate that they are deserving of rest. They feel some kind of irrational guilt about taking time off. Why not simply say, "I'm going to take some time off to rest." If you need rationale for that rest see points 1 and 2! Now go rest.

Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Job 24-27