Wednesday, May 30, 2007
"Are you ever really on vacation?
I mean you wouldn't take a vacation
from reading the bible and sharing
the gospel would you?"- A para-church ministry leader
Someone shared these words with me after I gave a brief lecture on rest. Of course my thoughts, at least coherent thoughts, came together only after (isn't this always the case!) our lovely conversation had ended.
Why not? Why can't I go on vacation and not read my bible? Why can't I go on vacation and not share my faith? What would happen? Would I come back from vacation, having to 'make up for lost time,' the way one would return to his/her work after a week away from it? Would God's Kingdom 'be put on hold?' Absolutely not.
But that doesn't mean I don't bring my bible on vacation, nor do close myself off from non-believers and sharing opportunities.
I must confess that I've never had a vacation where my personal bible study has been more frequent than my normal attempted daily routine. I'm off my schedule. And that's fine. I can still return refreshed, and God loves me just the same.
On the contrary, I have shared the gospel with folks several times because opportunities presented themselves while on vacation. But I didn't do it because I 'had' to do it; I did it because God had arranged such an opportunity, and I felt led to do so. But I still 'felt' like I was on vacation.
So there comes a time when we can take a vacation, and it can be a real vacation. It may be a vacation where you don't read the bible (although I would encourage you do so because it points us toward God's grace and His goodness-I just read and prayed before writing this, but not for a long time!) or engage yourself in personal evangelism. If you do neither, God will still love you just as much, even on your vacation.
Posted by Geoffsnook at 12:58 PM
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
"Vacation...All I ever wanted
Vacation...Had to get away"- The Go Go's
About a year ago my wife asked a church visitor, "Are you on vacation?" Her response was a little ditty that went something like this: "Heaven will be my vacation."
I'm sure heaven will be quite the vacation, but that does not eliminate the need for vacations of some sort now. Even in the OT, Israel was supposed to give the land a break (literally a Sabbath-Lev 26:34). Jeremiah prophesied that the people wouldn't return to the land after exile in 586 BC until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths (II Chronicles 36:21). If the land itself needs a break, then I could argue that people 'working the land' (and that involves our vocations) would need it even more. Vacations, provided we have the time and money to take them, are wise investments.
Posted by Geoffsnook at 11:14 AM
Monday, May 28, 2007
I was visiting my father-in-law's church this Memorial Day weekend, and was blessed by the sacrament of baptism (although it looked a little different than presented in this picture! ). If you happen to be presbyterian, then you embrace the covenantal nature of baptism. The child is entering into a covenant with God, and is now a member of His covenantal community: the church (of course he/she needs to express faith to enjoy all the rights of membership). But one thing often overlooked in baptism is the community's responsibility to that child. We actually VOW (I know vows don't mean much to most folks-but they should) to assist the parents in raising the child (that's why we don't have god-parents in Presbyterian circles). But how often do most of us abdicate any responsibility in nurturing that child? Volunteering for nursery, teaching Sunday School, assisting in youth ministry, mentoring, developing relationships with child and family, are all part of our covenantal responsibility. The question is how are we actually participating in, and living out what we say we believe, and have vowed to do?
Posted by Geoffsnook at 10:53 AM
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I just witnessed an interesting interview on one of the morning shows. There was a 60 year old mother of twins, ecstatic about this time in her life. But the conversation didn't really center around the newborns as it did around her (I know infants are notoriously bad interviews-that's not what I was expecting).
The question asked by Meredith Vierra was something to the effect of "Why did you decide to do this?" Her response primarily dealt with one motivation: empowerment for women. She already has a 29 year old daughter, who has publicly voiced her disapproval of her mother's actions. But this was an action to empower women all over, and we should get used to seeing more things like this. She was sending this 'positive' message to her daughter, even though it had presently fallen on deaf or perhaps ear wax filled ears.
Empowerment to do whatever you want despite the consequences or counsel to the contrary. This is the idol Covenant Seminary professor Jerram Barrs believes is most present in our society. I would have to agree.
I find it interesting that two different women can find the same motivation (empowerment despite counsel or consequence) and do two incredibly opposite actions: abortion or giving birth. By the way, I'm not a mysoginist; I struggle with this myself-of course it looks a bit different for me since I'm a dude.
By the way, that man in the picture isn't the father, but the doctor. The husband was cropped out. Interesting, eh?
Posted by Geoffsnook at 3:32 PM
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I just filled out my tax information with the ever popular turbo tax (I had to file for an extension, but it really wasn't my fault). But as I printed out the necessary information to mail to the IRS, the 1040 x form informed me that I owed 127 dollars. But the tax calculator in the corner of the screen said a refund of 1,144 dollars.
So I was stressed all afternoon, seeing as I still had (and still have) a sermon to complete before I skip town. So after a few hours of stressing (I was out of the office for a while), I decided to call Turbo Tax and talk to "the man" himself. After only a few minutes of 'mood' music, a friendly gentlemen told me that the only form I needed to pay attention to was the 1040. That form stated that my refund was 1,144 dollars. Quite a big 'point swing' I would and do say.
Someone just had to explain the truth to me. I was enslaved to a fear of something that simply wasn't true. How often is this the case. I guess I should trust Turbo Tax next time, or rather God, who through the gospel, has a little better 'track' record. Every fear is a faulty fear in Christ.
Posted by Geoffsnook at 5:15 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Before I went out fishing the other day, one of my Dad's friends offered to pray for our fishing trip. I usually feel weird about publicly praying for fish. But I must say, that I appreciated his prayer because it focused mostly on the God's gracious provision for our us, his atoning sacrifice, the beautiful day He'd given us, and finally "if it be your will, allow us some fish. "And it just so happened that it was His will to give us some fish, as evidenced in these pictures. Thanks Jesus for making these fish bite!
Posted by Geoffsnook at 2:02 PM
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I visited an elderly church member in the hospital last week. I got a birthday card for her son, since she hadn't missed one in 60 years, and didn't want to ruin that streack. ' Since she couldn't write, I filled in a few words and then offered to put a bible reference.
"Do you have any particular one you would like me to write down," I asked.
So I reached for my pocket PC (which housed my electronic bible) to get a reference appropriate to the situation, but my reach was all for naught.
But before I continue, I must say there were some noticeable anachronistic ironies at play. First of all, I was breaking out a fairly high tec gadget in front of someone who probably hadn't been on the internet before. Secondly, I was using that high tec gadget to read from something so ancient, yet always remains relevant-unlike my pocket PC which is already behind the times: many phones can do more than I can. Sorry for that 'aside.'
Now back to the story. I was interuppted with the words "Psalm 23." Then she continued her interruption with the words from Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd........"All of the words.
I think that day she ministered every bit as much to me, as I did to her, and perhaps more.
She taught me two things that afternoon:
1.) Memorize-If we memorize the words of scripture, we have truly 'hidden' God's Word in our hearts (Psalm 119), and we'll have it at our disposal throughout the day. What else will sustain us when visitors are few and far between, and the hospital room smells like cabbage (although its been a while since I smelled cabbage, but I know it smells bad, and so do hospitals)? God's Word, hidden in our hearts. Even when we don't have the power to turn the pages of the bible, it's still there.
2.) Start 'Em Young-I asked her when she had memorized this Psalm. She answered, "When I was a little girl in bible school." What an effect it had on her. VBS memorization really does make a difference. It's never too early for baby food, and it's never too early to memorize scripture. But then again, it's never too late either. Can't let us off the hook, eh?
Posted by Geoffsnook at 2:46 PM
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood
and speak truthfully to his neighbor,
for we are all members of one body.
I appreciate those who commented on the "Como Estas" post. When I first posted regarding Jim Rome's comment that when people say, "How's it going.....All they want to hear back from you is a 'fine,'" I was just asking a question. But now, in Jim Rome's language, "I do have a take" on this mentality. He is ENTIRELY correct that most people don't want to hear anything other than 'fine.'
But we do need to be active in changing our culture, not submitting to it. Well Rome wasn't built in a day, nor was it destroyed in one either. You can't really give one single date for the Fall of Rome; it had been falling for years, and the barbarian hordes 'cashed' in over a period of time. I don't mind playing the role of barbarian, since the work has already been started by Christ and continued by His Church.
So to be faithful to God's word to 'put off falsehood' and to 'speak truthfully' to our neighbors, I think we have this response to our culture: we are instructed and have the freedom to ask and answer truthfully.
Asking: I do think we ought to be careful asking people how they are doing if we don't care for a response other than 'fine.' Now I don't want to get pharisaical about it, because, "What's up?" really does mean "hi" in many cases. Better to look at the heart behind our "How are you" questions, and I think we'll often find a heart that doesn't care about the person or seek truth that will help share his/her burdens.
Answering: When asked how we're doing, we are free to answer truthfully, and say, "Terrible." Now that is not to say that the level of truth I reveal about myself will be the same to all these people: grocery clerk, casual acquaintance, mentor, parents, pastor, wife, etc...
However, as Christians, we are not simply instructed to be honest, but we have the freedom to be so. I can say, "I'm not doing well," and you aren't allowed to think I'm a freak, have lapsed, or am 'sub-Christian.' Christ has purchased our freedom to be honest (because he has taken all accusations with him to the cross). Even as a pastor, I'm allowed to have sad, bad, or apathetic days, and tell you about them! Although as I write that statement, I realize how often I choose slavery and dishonesty as opposed to truth and freedom.
Posted by Geoffsnook at 3:26 PM
Monday, May 7, 2007
The other day I heard someone say something to the effect of "You mean that when I feel guilty, I can just know that the cross means I no longer need to feel guilt." I explained to him the importance of repentance, but affirmed his new discovery. This was good news he hadn't ever heard before. A light bulb had gone off for him, and his eyes lit up. Wouldn't it be nice to approach the truth of Jesus' redemption with the such freshness? I would hope that this good news never stops being good. I hope that I never get 'beyond' the need to hear the wonderful news of the gospel, feeling the need to move on to something 'deeper.' Nothing can be more simple and yet so deep as the gospel.
Posted by Geoffsnook at 9:51 PM
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Its sad to say, but one of my most common inspirations for blogging, is Jim Rome. He has a Sports Talk show called "The Jungle," broadcast from 12-3 pm (at least on the East Coast). He spends half the time talking sports, and the other half poking fun at sports or in social commentary.
The other day, he 'preached' on the typical American pleasantry, "How's it going?" His point was this: no one really cares how you are doing when they ask this question. Its just a formality like a 'hi' or 'hello' and deserves the same terse response every time: "fine." No one really cares how you are doing when they ask that question. So don't tell them how you're really doing. Just say "Fine," no matter what, and move on. People really don't want to know what's really going on.
But it's not just an American issue. I spent 2 months in Mexico one summer and asked "Como Estas (how are you doing)" probably 986 times, and do you know the answer I got back 986 times? "Bien, y tu (Fine, and you..). "Bien" is what I said back. And honestly I'm grateful for their dishonest and terse response because I didn't have the language skills to respond to anything but a 'bien.'
But back to America (although its probably like this everywhere). Whether you disagree with the 'ethicality' of the attitude, it generally is true. When someone asks the question, "How's it going," the expected answer is a quick, "Fine." But what about with YOU? When you say, "How's it going," do you really want an answer other than 'fine?' Or when someone asks you, "How are you doing," do you really want to tell them how you are really doing? Do you have different responses for different people? Should you not ask how the other person is doing if you don't really care to listen? Let me know what YOU think.
Posted by Geoffsnook at 3:43 PM