Tuesday, July 31, 2007
A husband decides to woo his wife, so he takes her out to dinner and gives her a list of the things he loves about her. "All those things are true. Do you see that?" The wife nods. "Well then, you know I love you." The wife doesn't swoon. "But everything on this list is true! If you believe the items on this list, then you should be able to accept that I love you!"
This excerpt is from Donald Miller's Searching for God knows What, which I finished reading a few months ago. But I was reminded of this quote when reading an article about him in "Christianity Today."
In Searching, Miller critiques formulaic methods on how to become or grow as a Christian. The problem is presented in the above husband-wife interchange. People can just assent to or agree that certain things are in fact true; but this does not lead to love. It just leads to people stating true things about God. I think the Pharisees did that a good bit, and Jesus 'wasn't having none of it.'
But we are given the command to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
This does not mean that we reject propositional truth like "Jesus rose from the grave and accomplished salvation for all those who trust in Him." But rather we read these truths like they were on the next page of a great book. A book, a story, that the Author has included us in.
And so we read the truth like this: "Jesus rose from the grave and accomplished salvation for all those who trust in Him!" These aren't boring truths that are merely factual, but they are truths woven into the narrative of redemption, and every bit as evocative (emotion) as provocative (thought). The end result of knowing more truth about God is a greater love for Him. Otherwise we just become like the husband in the parable.
Monday, July 30, 2007
There are few weeks that I could classify as "my favorite" weeks of the year. Certainly the week before Christmas is up there, but so is the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week." Last night I watched an actual 'new show' (many years they just run the same shows, but weirdo's like me still watch them again) on the tragedy of the USS Indianapolis.
Sunk by a Japanese sub in the Fillipines near the end of WWII, the Indianapolis carried a crew of nearly 1200 people. 300 people went down with the ship, while the rest of the crew floundered in the water 5 days until rescue. Unfortunately there were less than 300 survivors when all was said and done. The wounded were eaten by sharks while exposure to the elements and lack of water killed the rest.
Can you imagine how scary it would be floating in the open ocean? The uncertainty of living through the night with sharks feeding on the dead and wounded, and perhaps coming for you? I can think of no greater nightmare than this. No greater uncertainty than this. How do you think you would respond?
Before he died, the priest comforted and strengthened morale with his prayers. Many others went insane, beat each other, and even kicked a shark attack victim off their raft. But one thing that struck me from the special last night was that people who "weren't religious, began to talk and ask me questions about God." Some people 'found God' out there on the water.
Everyday life is really no less precarious. Regardless of how secure we feel, tomorrow is never certain. Our certainty and confidence of ultimate rescue, no matter how bleak or how mundane (every day is a gift), is ultimately found in Christ.
I'm reminded of this Heidelberg Catechism Q and A.
1 Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my Own,but belong body and soul, in life and in death-
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and
ready from now on to live for him.
I hope this is what I would think of if I were floating out on the open ocean. But I hope that I think of it even now, while I'm not.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Meredith Viera mentioned something to Rowling about several characters dying off in her books. And then she asked Rowling if she ever thought about killing off Harry. How she responded was very interesting and quite telling. She said something to the effect of, "I thought about it a bit, but realized how many people would be utterly devastated."
And she's right. How many folks would be utterly devastated if their young hero were to be 'no more?' What power this woman has! Money gives people power. But so do words. She has both so I guess that makes her the most powerful person in England.
She can ruin someone's day (although, I'd say week or two) by killing off a beloved character or make someone's day by killing of a 'bad' guy. What power.
Unfortunately we have just as much power, if not more, with the spoken word to ruin people's days, weeks, and years. But the spoken word of encouragement can be just as powerful for good, even if it is just a few 'pages' of spoken words. So in some ways, without the luxury of a 700 page, billion dollar book, we're just as powerful as Rowling. So let us take caution and be reminded of Spiderman's maxim "with great privilege comes great responsibility."
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Sometimes people need a cup of coffee to wake up in the morning. Other times it takes something traumatic, like a frog in the toilet. As I was getting the coffee ready, Amy interrupted my routine with the claim of a giant frog in the toilet.
So I calmly surveyed the situation, and she was in fact correct: it was a frog in the toilet (I don't think her contacts were in because she thought it was something that usually belongs there at first). Then I grabbed some disposable gloves, a bucket, and a bit of courage, and made my way to the frog's newly found residence.
As I reached in there to coax him into jumping nicely into my bucket, his springy legs propelled him onto the shower wall. Then to the mirror, and then onto my chest hair. My chest hair proved to be only a short stay as I, with gloved hands, pushed him into the bucket and tried to cover up as much surface area as I could with one hand.
I yelled for Amy to open the front door, and I threw him out. He landed softly onto the wall outside, and I headed quickly to the shower. My chest hair needed a good washing, since the frog had spent the night in our toilet. Not the best place to lay your head, or whatever it is that they lay.
I really didn't need any coffee this morning, except to keep me from getting a caffeine headache.
And we learned a valuable lesson: look before lifting.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
You may have heard of the referee-gambling situation in the NBA. The man who is now wanted by the Feds (and the mob), happens to have a house in Lakewood Ranch. Apparently, allegedly, Tom Donaghy has been involved in tampering with games during his tenure in the NBA. But even stranger than that, I played basketball with this man at the ghetto YMCA when I first moved here.
Now I have played basketball at Furman University with an NFL safety, linebacker, WNBA star, but playing with an NBA ref wanted for fixing games and scores was obviously a first. However, I didn't notice any 'fishy' activity at the time. But looking back upon those games, who knows if they were really 'legit?' I mean, how do I know he was really giving his all (he probably was-he was a tough player who didn't like to lose)? But why was he playing so tough? Had he bet on himself? Since pick up basketball games are self regulated, and players become the ref's, I'll always wonder on the legitimacy of my wins and losses (mostly losses).
This could cast a dark cloud over pick up games of all sorts, from ultimate frisbee, church league softball, all the way down to jumping rope and tetherball (which is already deemed a 'dirty' sport by some these days). Who knows if the mob has infiltrated our ranks? We won't. And that's a thought-not a scary thought, or even an educated one; just a thought.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
I'm preaching on the providence of God this upcoming Sunday. It's probably one of the most comforting doctrines in all of the bible. That God is somehow involved in all of life, behind even human choices, is pretty cool.
For some people, this might be seen as an invasion of privacy. And I guess it is. He wouldn't infringe upon the rights of His created people would he? Well, I need him to. And I think most people would welcome this invasion of privacy at least at some level.
For instance, if some crazy PETA member (and this is just a hypothetical, I think) is coming to blow up your house because you like to eat veal, then don't you want God to "invade his/her (let's not be sexist) privacy" and make them change their mind? You wouldn't want to place all your hope in a fellow PETA member convincing them that killing people is actually worse than killing animals, would you?
I for one am glad that God can change people's minds. I certainly need Him to change my mind all the time. Fortunately God invades my privacy, and does it a lot. He's been doing it for some time now, and I need him to "will" and "to work" (Phil 2:13) until He completes the work He's started (Phil 1:6). Invasion of privacy is my only hope for sanctification.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Unfortunately I listen to a lot of sports talk. Once I get an IPod, I'll probably listen to a lot more edifying stuff, like sermons, when I'm behind the wheel. Maybe that will help with road rash, I mean, rage.
But the topic of conversation on pretty much every station, at every time of the day, is centered on one thing: Michael Vick and his dog fighting.
In case you didn't know or care (and that is certainly an option), Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcon's QB has been indicted for conducting dog fights on his property in Virginia. Apparently the shitzu's and the pugs, who fought not so bravely, were executed in a number of horrible ways. Actually they were pit bulls, but thinking of it now, lapdog fighting might be a little safer for both sides. Nipping and yapping can only do so much damage, you know?
Anyhow, Vick is innocent until proven guilty, in the court of law. But in the court of every Tom, Dick, and Harry, (and Geoff too) he is guilty until proven innocent. But is this a Christ-like attitude which me and Tom, Dick and Harry all share?
I just read last night how Jesus forgives those who recognize their need, even if they feel/we feel they are the worst of sinners John 4 (adultery), Luke 7 (serial adultery) and 1 Tim 1 (Paul for persecuting the church). But in this case, there is no confession, so not really an answer.
But if you go with the need for two witnesses (2 Cor 13:1; Deut 17:6; and I guess the Fed's when they bring the goods to trial will count as 'two'), then I probably ought to wait for the evidence. After all, both Jesse Jackson and I were led to believe the Duke Lacrosse players were guilty when they weren't. The only other principle I can think of is the trumping love principle: love neighbor as yourself. If I were innocent, I would want others to withhold judgment.
But what if I were guilty? I guess I'm jumping the gun again.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I can remember some time last year encouraging Amy to read more, or really at all. Recently that has paid off, for me, as much as for her. I purchase several books from Amazon every 3-4 months or so, and recently I purchased some books by Mark Driscoll. He's the "cussing pastor" of Blue Like Jazz.
Anyhow, before I have even finished Ordering Your Private World (which she already started and finished before me while I was out of town on the mission trip), she has been digging into 'my' books before I even have a chance to tell her about them! And she's reading it alongside an Edith Schaefer book as well.
Long story short, it took my wife to get me back into the discipline of reading again. And while I'm not moving along as quickly as I'd like, fortunately I can count on her example challenging me. It shows the blessing of having someone (not necessarily a spouse-though you do get double word score) in your life who can challenge you sometimes without saying a word, but rather reading one.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I mentioned in my sermon last week how much my wife and I love 48 Hours Mystery shows. The only problem with them is the fact that you really never know for sure (except one time when the dude admitted brutally killing his love rival for a slap-on-the-wrist-five-year-plea-deal) if the people are guilty.
Well, Amy and I DVR'd a Dateline special on Mary Winkler, the minister's wife who somehow shot her husband in the back. But this time, there was no doubt of her guilt. The only question was what degree of murder or manslaughter was it.
She claimed that she didn't remember doing it. Convenient memory. She didn't know why she was aiming a loaded shotgun at her husband, even though she remembers getting literally kicked out of bed moments earlier.
I guess if you forget that you killed someone, even if you confess to the murder, and have the shotgun in your 'get-away' mini-van, you have the chance of serving just over a year in prison.
Not the finest performance by a jury. Fortunately we can actually trust our Judge.
Monday, July 16, 2007
A man walked into a house holding a 14 year old girl at gun point and shouting for money. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for everyone else, the family was just finishing dinner. So the family did what any good hospitable family would do: they asked him to sit down and have a glass of wine.
Amazed by the taste of this wine, and perhaps even more by the grace of its offer, he calmly admitted he was at the wrong house. Afterwards, he asked for a group hug and then left.
I don't suppose that we'll be thrown into this situation, but it does show you how hospitality, even if its only having a glass of wine with neighbors (which my wife and I try to do on a monthly basis with our neighbors), really breaks down barriers. It either figuratively, or literally in this case, makes people put away their weapons and defenses. In time, you'll listen to what they have to say, and they'll be open to hear what you have to say. However it usually doesn't work as quickly as this unusual case. Nevertheless, the long term impact may be much greater.
Click here for a link to the story, in case you want to read it, or if you don't believe me.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Today I paid a decent bit of money, and the only thing that came out of it, was the assurance that I would have to pay a lot more money later. I waited at my house today from 1-4 pm (because the plumbing service always operates with exact science) so that a lad could come and fix my sink (I guess that's a sexist assumption-but I've never seen a female plumber). He charged me $75 to fix something that really should have been under warranty.
But anyhow, I agreed to pay the 75 dollars to stop the leak under the bathroom sink. So he grabbed the 15 dollar part and proceeded to 'plumb away' with it. After two of those 15 dollar parts, the leak was still as active as the humidity these days. He deemed the sink useless. So I was stuck paying 75 dollars so that he could tell me my sink was useless, and not fix it. After he made a phone call on my behalf, he dropped the fee to 45 dollars. Still, I hate paying for someone to not fix something.
I think sin is much like paying for our product (our life) to be fixed, but finding out in the end that our payment only leaves us more frustrated. Because not only did nothing get fixed, we feel more in debt than before; the payment only leaves us more aware that the problem is not something we can fix, or can afford to fix. But this is where the gospel becomes sweet: we're not more in debt tomorrow even though it feels like it. Our debt has been canceled and new sink purchased. The 'glory' in confessed sin and need is that the gospel tastes that much sweeter: like bottled water as opposed to tap water.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Every other religion requires sacrifice from the people, where as Christianity requires first a sacrifice from God: Himself. God the Son gives Himself up and God the Father turns His back on God the Son's cries. Wow. The height of sacrifice, pain, and inconvenience.
I think it pays to marvel over the fact that God had to actually do something, something HUGE, to save us. Pretty cool, eh? That's good news any day of the week, I think.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Last night my college bible study was not well attended like the week before. So the few of us decided on a movie that could at least generate some thought (and wouldn't last too long). Some of us wanted to see The Fountain, but I didn't push that since one dude had already seen it twice.
Instead we picked another existential movie called Garden State. The movie is rated R, and deservedly so with more than a few "f" words and one scene to skip, but it does give some helpful critique into the soul of much of our world.
On a positive note, the movie critiqued a quick to medicate, pain numbing, notion of keeping everything happy at the expense of 'keeping it real.' The relationship between father and son, was NEVER good, and the main character challenged his father on what it really meant when he said, "All I ever wanted was for us to be happy again." Without confession on how each had sinned against the other, and how messed up life had become, they couldn't move forward.
On a sadder note, though not necessarily negative, it gives me a greater picture into the mind of my neighbors (not literal because most of mine are older!). What I took from the movie was: be real and honest, embrace the uncertainty of not knowing God or the future, explore who you are because you are all that's certain.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Last Tuesday, on the way home from eating with a friend, I purchased a kayak. I really wasn't buying it on a whim. I had been wanting to do this for a while, investigated a few, and then decided to make the purchase.
I finally took it out for its maiden voyage on Monday. I'm glad I didn't crack a bottle of champagne (as is customary on large vessels) or even the champagne of beers (Miller High life) on the hull because it would have made it harder to return. Yep return. The ride was awful, it hurt my back, and I almost tipped it over several times while re-positioning myself. But The Sports Authority came through in the clutch.
I learned a few things here.
1.) Always keep receipts (either by putting them in your wallet or leaving them in a bag in your car).
2.) Sometimes its better to be REALLY patient and read several reviews on expensive products before committing to purchase them
3.) If you neglect #2, then make sure you buy from The Sports Authority, which boasts (or perhaps its just me boasting about them) the world's most liberal return policy.
Monday, July 9, 2007
"I am incapable of being an extraordinary service to God without God. That's what He likes to do. He'll take an ordinary person and allow the them to do the miraculous."
It has been a rather encouraging 'sports week' for me. I don't mean that any of the teams I pull for actually won a game or two (the D-Rays haven't won 2 games in their last 14). What I'm referring to is that I've been encouraged or challenged in my faith recently through the sports media.
This morning on ESPN, they ran a special on Andrea Jaeger. She was a tennis phenom (at one point ranked #2 in the world) from age 13-19 before being injured and unable to play any longer on the circuit. She later started a ranch for terminally ill children, and has involved people like David Robinson, Andre Agassi, Kevin Costner, and yes, even personal friend Cindi Crawford.
In fact Cindi Crawford even commented on her faith, explaining that "...she didn't choose to become a nun: she was called." Fairly recently, Jaeger felt called to become an Anglican Dominican nun.
Jaeger's quote that is posted above testifies to a sovereign God at work in her own life. When people make leaps of faith, it is out of a faith that is first given by God. Now saying that God hasn't given you faith is not an excuse to not step out in faith; however, when you do, you can be assured that it is His work. And when you see a quote like this, you are observing God given faith and humility.
To read more about Andrea Jaeger, particularly from another secular perspective (PEOPLE, although ESPN's segment on her life was very God honoring), click here.
Friday, July 6, 2007
Today I was listening to the Ron and Ian Show while driving home from meeting someone. The station (620 AM) that encouraged me to check out the internet babe's on their website actually brought something of substance just minutes later. Good substance.
One caller complained of how bad Red Sox fans are: making fun of Devil Ray's hair do's and making it hard for their broadcast people to do interviews (apparently even the little one's shoot birds). He said that when the Red Sox come into town, they better watch it.
There are two things questionable about this proposition. First of all, when the Red Sox play the D-Ray's at Tropicana Field, the stadium houses at least 3 times more Red Sox fans. This creates all kinds of 'match-up' problems for retaliating D-Ray's fans. D-Ray's fans are not like the 300 (or whatever number they had) Spartans at Thermopoli.
But surprisingly Ian Beckles responded in a very biblical manner, questioning the 2nd problem with this statement, and neglecting to point fingers at other fans. If you claim other team's fans are so evil and bad, and you threaten to do back to them what they do to you (more or less), then you're no different. Ian said, when they yell stuff, "Just look the other way."
Simple truth, hard to apply, but very Christlike: "When he reviled, he did not revile in return"
-I Peter 2:23. Sometimes non Christians can really challenge us. I wouldn't have condoned responding maliciously to Red Sox fans, but I surely would have joined in some Red Sox fan bashing before responding the way Ian did.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
It's amazing how often God protects us from stuff we don't even realize. For instance, watching fireworks on July 4th. We gathered, as has been Henderson family tradition (although I admittedly have been gone the last 4 July 4ths) at my grandmother's condo on St. Pete Beach. The city of St. Pete Beach usually puts on a kickin' show. Apparently this year, they had some new folks in charge of the pyrotechnics who kicked a little too much.
We watched the dramatic conclusion of the fireworks display outside by the pool, not more than 75 feet away from where they were shooting them off. And then came a boom much louder than any other boom we'd heard or expected. Something blew up.
But the show must go on. So with people running from the boardwalk into the pool area, some more fireworks went off, and then another BOOM. That, as far as I remember was the end. The ever so explosive end.
The newspaper recorded 12 injuries, with the hotel next door loosing many windows in the explosion. I recorded one more injury, lucky # 13: my sister-in-law took a huge splinter to the thigh, with some burns as well. The splinter has been removed by my Pop's, but the burns are a different story.
We were all very fortunate nothing hit our faces or eyes-since, unlike the 80's song, I don't wear my sunglasses at night (or protective goggles either). And my wife noticed on the way home that a ton of things can always go wrong, at virtually any point in time. But it is not until something goes wrong that we thank God for His protection (or blame Him). Perhaps we should thank God more often when things go 'right.'
If you want to read about the explosion to end all explosions, the Chernobyl of St. Pete Beach check out the St Pete times coverage of the story by clicking here.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Amy and I watched the first two episodes of "Age of Love." In case you haven't heard of it, Mark Philopousis (probably incorrectly spelled, but a pro tennis star pictured here nevertheless) is the Bachelor and he has to choose a potential dating partner (that's usually as far as these relationships go) from a pool of women in their 20's and 40's. He has to eliminate one in each age group each week. Well, we've stopped watching the show, because it is, frankly, kind of sad-among other things ( many other things). But after we finished watching our DVD last night, I did catch the tail end of the show (so I guess I haven't quit yet).
One of the women, aged 42, had clearly said there was a 'feeling' going on within her, and she resolved to not accept his invitation to stay. Well as she approached Mark, this 42 year old really caved. He explained how great of a time they have together, and she expressed her reservations. But he still wanted her to stay, and so she stayed.
Who knows what was going on within the heart of this 42 year old? I've learned better than to assume I can completely figure women out (and this is a good thing-this is not a knock: it means you're not shallow!). But as soon as another man expressed interest in her, she totally changed her mind-despite being firmly resolute in her decision to leave.
I don't question her character or decision making, any more than any of the others who've subjected themselves to the experiment of whether Mark will include age as a deciding factor in love. But this example I witnessed on TV probably goes on within the hearts of so many people looking for love: they just settle. They feel valued and cherished, and are made to feel important-so they settle. And its sad to me, much sadder than "Age of Love."
I think that if women felt a little more valued, cherished, important (all proved true by the price it cost Jesus to make us Christians), perhaps they would settle less often, and look for more in a mate. But the same is true for all aspects of life regardless of sex-if we would realize how much we cost, we might settle far less in other areas as well.
Monday, July 2, 2007
It is very clear to me that God is faithful and good to me regardless of how few fish I catch. I've been forgiven, blessed with a wife, church, house, food, etc...
But sometimes he provides just a little bit more to remind me of how great He is. I vacationed in the Keys all last week, and had the opportunity to fish for Tarpon twice. The first day, I almost landed one, but it was one that the guide had hooked, and then given to me (so it just didn't feel right).
Fortunately we had another trip, but all I had to show for 3 and a half hours of fishing were some 6-7 foot nurse sharks (they are lazy sharks that don't swim fast, look cool/scary or fight well). With only 20 minutes or so left on our trip, I hooked a monster tarpon (conservative scientific estimates put him at 135-140 lbs). After about 30 minutes or so of fighting him, we snapped these pictures, and let him go.
God didn't have to give me a fish. But I thank Him that he did. There are tons of our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer daily in a number of ways. And these sufferings are more serious than catching fish. But nevertheless, I still think it brought Him some bit of glory to see me smile, sweat, and thank Him for the great fish.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
After a week on vacation with no cell phone use (personal preference) and no internet, I'm enjoying being back. However the week in the Florida Keys was certainly a blast, and I forsake not the Keys.
I was reading Psalm 92 (I try to read a Psalm each Sunday morning before I leaving the house for church) today. For some reason, I usually read a Psalm in the 80-'s to 90's. Perhaps because those were the best years for music, or perhaps because most of them have to do with praise.
Anyhow, I came across a puzzling verse, at least at first.
"The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green."
This passage ought to bring one back to the first chapter of Psalms, as the righteous are considered to be like trees planted near a stream. Thus they flourish because the Lord makes them grow.
But what struck me as odd at first was the fact that the trees are ultimately referring to people. You would expect older folks to be those who bear fruit in life, and younger ones to be less fruitful (general trends are that those who grow up in church stop going once college starts).
However, if you really think about it, the parallel for Christians really does make sense. If you get past simple church attendance statistics, it can be very difficult for older folks to bear fruit. Our sinful nature doesn't get better over the years-if anything I could say it gets worse (there's quite a battle still ahead for all of us). Someone like me who struggles with an acrid tongue or jealousy, and has struggled with it for a long time, would not find it easy to bear fruit in this areas 20-30 years from now. After all, I would have been battling these for some time. But this verse gives me hope that I can still bear fruit, even in these tough areas.
So in my opinion, on further glance, and a small bit of reflection, this verse really does make a TON of sense to me. Old people, (I'm losing hair and going grey-so I can be called old, even though I'm still 'hip and down with the times') do have hope for change despite years of sinful habits. Amen, eh?