Monday, September 26, 2011

The Ultimate Hero

I have one hero that needs to be included. This hero is the one that has had the greatest, long term, consistent influence on my life, my behavior and my beliefs. My hero is my mother. She is the best, and this is why...
  1. She has shown me unconditional love at every point in my life. She does not get fatigued loving me. She has never "turned off her switch."
  2. She has modeled for me what it means to live a life of integrity. I have never had any reason to believe that my mom's actions were anything less than absolutely pure.
  3. Mom has taught to be to be a "bleeding heart." Because of her I am always interested in the needs, concerns and attitudes of others.
  4. Mom reproduced her deep faith in me. I am a Christian man today because my mother was a Christian woman before I was born. I followed her example and have never been sorry.
  5. She has been the best mother I could ask for. She gave me her attention when I needed and left me alone when I needed that. She gave me just enough rope at every turn. I am sure that she made mistakes, but I am hard-pressed to think of any.
  6. She was a great influence on my father. He was in love with her and willing to change to make her happy. Because of my mom, my dad settled down, became a man of faith, a good husband and a great father.
Anything that I have done in my life, everything that I have accomplished, all of the good in my life is because my mom was good in my life first.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mid-Life Crisis, part II

Last month I wrote about my “mid-life crisis” when I turned 40. At that time I asked God to reveal to me what I should be doing with the rest of my life. I am very concerned that I do not waste my time, my energy, or the gifts that God gave to me. I want to be found worthy of God's call on my life and to do his work with all my heart.

To that end, God gave me the mission to do three things with the rest of my life. I wrote about the first of those last month, “Renewing worship in the church.” Today, let's turn to the second part of this renewed call; “Teaching the Bible and instilling a love for God's Word in God's people.”

A big part of what I have devoted my life too is learning God's word. I read the Bible every day. I have made a commitment to read it through at least once each year for the rest of my life. I regularly read books about the Bible. I take classes and listen to sermons on the Bible. I am resolved to base my sermons, lessons and writings on God's Word. It will be the basis from which I orient my priorities in living, teaching and planning for the future.

This is all true partly because,

  1. The Bible is the best place to get information on how to live in God's will. Without a foundation source, we cannot really know what God wants, or how to measure ourselves.

  2. The Bible comes to us as the actual, revealed Word of God. God has spoken to us so that we can know his ways, his works and his will.

  3. The more we know and study the Bible, the more we will want to know and study God's word. Knowing about the Bible causes us to want to know more about the Bible. Reading His word, makes us want to study it more. We will learn that we can never know too much Biblical information. God's word is addictive, in a good way.

  4. The Bible reveals to us how we can grow in our faith. There are too many Christians who struggle just to maintain their faith experience. Many more have no clue how to experience the abundant life that Jesus promises (John 10.10). To grow in your faith, spend time with God studying his Word.

I promise you, that to the best of my ability, I will teach you what God teaches in the Scriptures. I will challenge you to read, study and meditate on the Bible so that you can experience God in new ways. How about joining me on this journey into God's Word?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My (Other) Heroes

First there was my list of heroes. Those were the ones who are still living who have influenced my life. They have- and usually still are- making a difference for me and for others. But there are other heroes who are no longer with us. These are sometimes historical people, other times they are family members or friends who are deceased. They are all men and women who made me (and are making me) who I am.

  • Pauline Welsh (Othermom). This is the woman who made it possible for me to be a Christian. She prayed for me. She loved me. She still serves as an inspiration and pattern for my faith and life. Her affection for me knew no limits or conditions. She taught me to love others and to love God in the same way.
  • Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was our greatest president. (I will have a conversation about this one, but I guarantee that you cannot convince me otherwise.) He stood up to those who opposed him, even to the point of death. He was not afraid to keep trying, even in the face of disappointment and defeat. He cared more for the union of our country than he did for political expediency or popularity. (Today's politicians would do well to learn some of those lessons.
  • CS Lewis. I am a great fan of Lewis because of his writing, but that is not all. He was a thinker. He evaluated all options before making decisions, but was not afraid to make the right choice, even if it meant reversing an earlier position.
  • Thomas Jefferson. Washington and Franklin get all of the attention, but it was Jefferson that made America happen. A brilliant thinker, Jefferson was a renaissance man long after the renaissance. Although his attitudes and personal life make him politically incorrect today, we should honor him as a great man in American history.
  • John Wesley. Not only was Wesley the founder of Methodism, he was a tireless organizer, leader and preacher. His movement continues to be one of the most important Christian groups in the world. Wesley influence goes beyond his churches to protestants around the world.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My (Living) Heroes

I have been thinking a lot about how to live my life recently. I believe that we should try to learn from others as much as possible. There is no need- usually- to re-invent the wheel. Therefore, I have been thinking of people that I would like to pattern my life after. This post will be followed on future days by my historical heroes and others. What follows then, are some of my living heroes.
  • Jimmy Carter. Although his presidency was less than what most of us would have desired, since leaving the White House he has become the standard by which all former-presidents will be measured. Almost always without regard to partisan politics he has fought disease and oppression throughout the world. He advocates for peace, for dignity for all and for free and fair elections in all societies. His Carter Center is an international force for good; his work with Habitat for Humanity is well-know; and he is unafraid to speak out about his faith.
  • Billy Graham. Often referred to as a spiritual adviser to world leaders, including several US Presidents, he is much more than that. Graham has shared the message of Jesus with more people than any other individual- ever. He is consistent, filled with integrity, humble and completely ethical. The world is a better place because of Billy Graham and the example that he has set for religious leaders of all stripes throughout the world.
  • Jeff Newton. Jeff is a pastor, but more than that. He was serving a comfortable church as a pastor, when he heard the calling to leave that setting to take up ministry in an inner-city setting. He left security, for insecurity. He put the Kingdom of God, and ministry to others above his own comfort, or desires. Jeff continues to serve the least of these as he works to feed, clothe, inspire and educate the poor in his community.
  • Dewey Miller (not me). My dad has served as an example for me for my whole life. He loves his family and lives for them. He has always been one to come to the aid of his children and grandchildren. There has never been a request too great for him. He has been steadfast in his commitments, loving in his example and filled with integrity in his relationships. I want to be like him.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Some Pet Peeves

I have held my tongue for long enough. I can't take it anymore. There are some things that are driving me crazy. People (and I am sure that I can be included in this) say things that they do not even think about. It is really starting to get on my nerves.

The other day, as I was leaving a store, the clerk said to me, "Have a good one." I am sure that he meant well, but what did he mean? I got out of the store and wondered aloud, "A good what?" Did he want me to have a good dinner, a good cry, or a good bottle of one?

And what about this one, "You're fine." This is usually a response to "Excuse me," or "I'm sorry." You know, you bump into someone- and I mean that you make actual, inadvertent, physical contact- at the supermarket and so you excuse yourself. The current, popular response is, "You're fine." I just want to know, how do you know if I'm fine or not. I may be sick, worried, anxious, depressed or exhausted. I might not be fine. I just bumped you.

One more, "It's the same difference." What does that mean? If it is the same it is not different. If it is different, it definitely is not the same. This seems to be a perfect example of an oxymoron.

And while I am on the subject of things that people say that also drive me crazy, how about the trite, Christian cliches that are so popular? If you don't know what I am talking about, just remember to never say any of the following:
  • Let go and let God.
  • Wise men still seek him.
  • Jesus is the reason for the season.