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Showing posts from 2014

The Wonder and Power of Reconciliation

Take a mere cursory glance at the world around us and into our own hearts and we see division, opposition, hatred, hurt and broken relationships. The painful exposure of the racial divisions in America in recent weeks has reminded me of three things: how fracturous and diminishing this disunity is for our personal and shared human experience of life as imago Dei (made in the image of God), how much it grieves the heart of God who created us and how unique and singular is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring true healing, reconciliation and shalom. We, as individuals and as communities, fall short of life that is truly life apart from the power of reconciliation - a reality born from the heart of God our Father, brokered to us through Jesus Christ and manifested today by the power of his Holy Spirit. 
Reconciliation is the restoration of relationship. Restoration implies a recovery of something which was lost. It is rooted in the past, present and the future; a former rela…

Ferguson, John Perkins, Mockingjay and Race

Just prior to the recent Grand Jury announcement in Ferguson, we (the SOS Academy) wrapped up a collective reading of Let Justice Roll Down, a autobiographical memoir of pastor, civil rights leader and founding father of the Christian Community Development Association, John Perkins.

His book reminds me that we are not long in our tumultuous struggle of racial equality and reconciliation in this country; the wounds of the civil rights era remain tender in this nation. His story reminds me that we have very far to go in our sojourn towards reconciliation and justice in this nation which has witnessed a long history of one racial majority subjugating racial minorities. His testimony reminds me that both personal, moral accountability is a critical factor for all parties in the conversation, and his own experience tells me that simultaneously there are objective, systematic forms of racial oppression which must be confronted and dismantled, for all lovers of God are lovers of justice for…

In the House of Mourning

Solomon once wrote:

"It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man, And the living takes it to heart.
S
orrow is better than laughter,For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The [d]mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the [e]mind of fools is in the house of pleasure." (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4)

This past weekend, our family of three traveled ten hours to east Ohio for the funeral of one of Amber's family (we'll call her T) who died after a tough fight with cancer. She was married to J and left four children, the youngest of which is just three - born just a couple weeks after our daughter, Anna, thus rending our hearts a bit more than usual. 
Could it really be that it's better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting? Was this just the melancholic rant of a jaded cynic? Wouldn't it be better for us to just avoid the house of mourning and remain in the house of pleas…

Training Ourselves

Physical training is of some value...

But Godliness holds value in all things
Both in this life and in the life to come

For the first time in several years, I'm attempting to stick to a training regiment for a running race - the St. Jude half marathon this coming December right here in my new city. This isn't a big runners city, but there are still a good amount of running races, the St. Jude weekend in December being the granddaddy of them all.

I've taken such a casual attitude toward running for the past few years. I have not pushed myself. I have not made myself hurt. In short, I have not trained. Thus, I have not grown. I've sacrificed long term reward for short term comfort. I suppose I've kept myself mildly active, but I haven't pushed myself to discomfort in a long time.

It is all too easy for me to be an untrained individual. All the entropy leads towards lazy, undisciplined, convenient, instant gratification living.

What are the reasons I don't tr…

Overton park sings a tune

Verdant canopy
towering trees
singing birds
cool breeze
this forest sings a tune
to her king
awake o earth
arise you creatures
make a glad song
to your maker

What a widow's olive oil has to say to us today

There was a widow once who ran up to Elisha the prophet and laid out her story: "My husband is dead. He was a Godly man who worshiped Yahweh. But he was in debt and his creditors have come and threaten to throw my two boys into the labor camp." 
How does the prophet respond? What does a man of God do in this situation? 
Does he condemn the woman for being in debt? Does he write her a check? Does he invite her to the sanctuary for prayer?
"How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?" he asks.
Hmmm. Not the response I'd expect. Funny timing on this passage from 1 Kings 4:1-7 because in the past two weeks since arriving in Memphis I've had several men come up to me to ask for help and for money. I've been caught off guard after living the past four years within the world of campus ministry. But I suppose I had this happen in that context, too. Maybe it was, "I just failed my exam. My mom is not listening to me. I feel so alone. Help!&…

The Unexpected Neighbor

Knock. Knock. There stood my neighbor, dressed in his starch white Naval uniform. He had just completed his duties at a military funeral and returned earlier than usual. He didn't have a key to his house, which actually isn't his house. He and his wife and children are staying with in-laws for the time being. They just had their fifth baby and are in a time of need. His wife had the key and wasn't home yet, so he kindly asked if he could sit down and wait until she returned home in a few minutes. Of course, of course. Do you want anything to drink? Have a seat, have a seat. We began to converse and learned more about our neighbor. We learned that he has worked 300 funerals in a short period of time, in order to earn extra money to support his family, each funeral an optional opportunity for a reservist. He shared his history in the Navy and the current economic pressures he feels as he waits to see if he will be granted an extension to finish out his career in the reserves…

What's this? What's this?

Have you seen Nightmare Before Christmas? Like a bear waking from his winter cave, the song "What's this?" stirred and stretched and sauntered out of my memory yesterday. Looking around at my new environment - new house, new neighbors, new city, new community, new colors, sights and sounds - my heart began to stir with a wonder and excitement I haven't felt for some time. I suppose all of this newness awakened the song, somewhat appropriately for this occasion as I look around at this place I now call home.

Unlike the "Christmas town" which Jack discovers where people are singing and throwing snowballs in the expectant dawn of Christmas, I am in Memphis, Tennessee. Certainly no snow here. But my eyes and ears are thirsty as they drink deeply from my new surroundings. My heart, too. I've been tired and restless of late and this move seems to be stirring me from a slumber. No, moving is not a quick fix. Our hearts are much more complicated than that. But …

Tacitus, 120 AD, speaking of Christ

"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea,"
Source: http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/txt../ah/Tacitus/TacitusAnnals15.html