Goodbye to the Summer

Saturday we bid goodbye to August and hello to a new season. I know fall doesn't officially begin until September 23rd, but it's close enough for me. Personally, I'm more than ready for weather cool enough to warrant a jacket or sweater. I wasn't built for sunshine (as my pale skin can attest). Every ending is a new beginning. Just as one meteorological season gives way to the next, so, too, go the seasons of our lives. Few people -- if anyone -- remain the same person throughout their lives. I personally know of only one person who said, "I'll be this when I grow up!" when we met and then actually did it almost a decade later -- and even he, after another decade, is in a decidedly different

Assumptions

Last night at the Men for Christ meeting, I accidentally gave $6 to the woman collecting the money for the meal instead of the actual $5 cost. When she stopped me to hand me back the extra dollar (and as someone apologized for the absentminded preacher), I just stuffed the bill into my shirt pocket instead of placing it back in my wallet. The woman laughed and said, "You know you'll forget about that until your wife finds it on laundry day!" It was a harmless comment, and I didn't correct her, but it has me thinking about the assumptions we make about other people: marital status, things they know, how they feel about things. Often these turn into judgments. How they speak and dress, the car

Words of Life

One of my favorite passages in the Gospel of John comes at the end of chapter six. Jesus has just taught some pretty heavy stuff, and the crowd doesn't care for the implications of cannibalism in the "I am the bread of life" statement. Slowly and then not-so-slowly, the multitudes who had followed Christ disperse, and Jesus finds himself with a much smaller group of disciples. John 6:66-68 records things this way: "From this time, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'" Peter states point-blank that the Twelve have n

Cosmetics

I'm currently using the library as my office-away-from-office once more. The carpet people are putting in new carpet in the back hallway, stairs, and offices, so I'm living a life in exile. I don't mind, though. After all, I haven't had to unplug the internet gear yet, and hey, everyone needs a change of scenery now and then. If we're telling the truth, the church needed the new carpet. It was looking pretty bad in places, especially the landing on the back stairs. New carpet is a good thing, but at base, it's just a cosmetic change. I realize churches have split over picking out the color of the carpet, but I don't see that anyone's soul is in jeopardy because they went with blue over red.

The Undiscovered Country

In a recent post, I mentioned how everyone seemed to be asking me questions about death and dying lately. I don't know if it's a function of fear -- we're afraid the world will blow up before Christ returns -- or if it's a natural curiosity, but the trend has continued. Several of you over the last couple of weeks have asked what happens to us when we die. Today I'm going to take a crack at answering this. Let me begin with one caveat, however: no one really knows. All of our best answers are really our best guesses based on our interpretations of the Bible. I certainly won't hold it against anyone who disagrees with me. We think of the afterlife in terms of three parts: a present state, an

Waiting for God(ot)

There's a play by Samuel Beckett called Waiting for Godot. The two main characters spend the entire play waiting for the arrival of Godot, but (spoilers) he never shows up. The title character never makes it onto the stage at all -- I guess he doesn't care the play is named after him. Sometimes it feels to us like we wait for God, but He never shows up; our lives are a version of Waiting for Godot (only two letters different, after all). We pray and wait, pray and wait. Yet nothing ever seems to happen. Our prayers can go on for decades -- last a lifetime -- and yet they still go seemingly unanswered. (Of course, we know God answers all prayers; the answer is just sometimes "no" or "keep wai

Feeding Time

Too many church dinners and a sedentary lifestyle finally did me in: either I would need to lose weight or buy bigger pants. Not enjoying the latter idea, for a week now I've had salad for lunch every day. They may taste like sadness, but the immediate effect was somewhat surprising: lettuce isn't a miracle food, but I began to instantly feel noticeably better. I eat my share of veggies at home, but apparently my body needed a little extra. It needed to be fed the right things. As the body, so the soul. We need to feed our souls the right sort of spiritual food in order to grow and be healthy in our Christian walk. Why? Because in a very real sense, the old saying "you are what you eat" hold

The Battle Within

I don't know that you've ever noticed, given the fact I wear long sleeves 360 days out of 365, but the inside of my forearms are vastly different. The right one is as pale as the rest of me (which is to say, proceed only with proper eye protection when in bright light). The left one, though, is substantially darker. My body seems to have been split down the middle, and one side went one way, and the other went another. In the middle is me, living in the tension. We're all like that -- if not in visible ways, then in invisible ones. We live in a fallen world, and that fallenness makes sin attractive to us. Why attractive? Because part of us wants it. Our sin nature means we want to sin. It mi

Peace in the Valley

Somehow the topic of death was once again broached last night, and something came up I'd like to address today. (Seriously, though. This stuff is beginning to follow me around everywhere.) Someone made the comment they were fine alive and they'd be fine dead, but dying itself wasn't all that appealing. To quote Isaac Asimov, biochemist and grandmaster of science fiction, "Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome." The transition seems to be the scary part, to be sure. What does it feel like to die? What if it's a quick death? What about a protracted period of dying, a battle for every last breath? No one who knows is telling, and that makes us fear death fo

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