Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What is Your Vocation?

Do you have a vocation?  In a general sense, vocation is what all Christians do as we live out the life of Jesus.  But in a more specific way, vocation is the special assignment that only you can do.
Dorothy Sayers writes:  

"Our vocation is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do . . . the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God.

It is the business of the Church to recognize that the secular vocation, as such, is sacred.

Let the Church remember this:  that every maker and worker is called to serve God in his profession or trade -- not outside it.  Whatever we are called to "do" is not a "job" but a sacred vocation."
Parker Palmer adds, "Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you."  What he is suggesting we learn is this:  God will not ask us, "Were you like Mother Teresa or the prophet Daniel or Peter or you father or  mother?"  Instead, God will ask us, "Were you the 'you' I made you to be?"

And I love this from Os Guinness (I love that name):  "The truth is not that God is finding us a place for our gifts, but that God has created us and our gifts for a place of his choosing -- and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there." 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Decatur: The WIndy City

I'm thinking about going into wind turbine generator sales.  My goodness, the wind has been blowing here in recent months!  Kite flyers would love it in Wise County.  Today:  Gusts over 40.

I have been humored by folks who have been saying that Tiger Woods is not the same since his knee surgery.  After all, he lost in the 2nd match of his return in the World Match Play championship.  And he could only make the top ten in his 2nd tournament at Doral.  Well, yesterday, he started the day 5 back of Sean O'Hair.  Guess who won?  Yeah, buddy.  It took him three whole tournaments to return to the winner's circle.  

Next stop:  Augusta and the Masters.

I would agree with the critics that Tiger is not the same.  He looks like he has been pumping iron.  And his swing looks as if it is much more controlled (less stress on the reconstructed knee).

I felt sad for the Dallas Police Department, as they made national news this morning because one officer with "Barney Fife syndrome" decided to throw his weight around.  You have probably heard the story.  A Houston Texan football player was on the way to the hospital with his wife.  Her mother was about to die.  The officer pulled them over in the hospital parking lot and detained them for over 30 minutes.  The football player was pleading with him to let them go.  He told him to write a ticket, but please allow them to go to her mother.   Finally, the wife left -- and the officer pulled a gun on her.  Other officers were telling him to let them go. Hospital staff came out and pled for him to release them.  Meanwhile, the mother died.

By the way, this is not one of those "he said, she said" things.  The whole incident was captured on the officer's camera.  It is heartbreaking as you can hear this couple pleading with him to allow them to go to her mother.  

This morning I read in the paper that a current Dallas Cowboy said this same officer had pulled his wife over, handcuffed her and taken her in for a traffic violation.

It's a shame that the whole Dallas Police Department receives a black eye because of someone like this.  He has been put on leave for a while.  I think he might need to find another line of work -- hopefully away from the public.          

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stories on the Internet

I received an email this morning regarding a petition to stop a hearing before the Federal Communications Commission to outlaw all reading of Scripture on television.  Petitions like this have been circulating since the days of Madilyn Murray O'Hair.  Yet, there are no such hearings or pending legislations.

In the most recent one, it mentioned that this would remove Charles Stanley, Joyce Meyers and Joel Olsteen from television.  If the reading of Scripture would remove people from TV, Stanley and Meyers would certainly be out.  But Olsteen would be safe (just kidding, kind of).

With the internet comes constant stories meant to instill fear in people.  Anyone can make up anything, and send it round the world on the internet.  Last week, it was the gang initiation in which 3 people would be killed at Walmart.  There are constant political emails spreading rumors and lies.

PLEASE:  I encourage you to check out stories.  Most anything you receive of this nature can be checked for voracity at www.snopes.com.  As Christians who are not to take part in rumor-mongering and the spreading of gossip, we are obligated to be people of TRUTH.  Our truthfulness is put into question when we take part in rumors.     

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What Is The Right Answer?

I heard an interesting story this morning.  Occasionally a story like this comes along, and I don't know for sure what the right thing to do is.  Easy answers are not always the best answers.

It seems that a preacher and father of 5 children has taken into his house a man who served many years for killing a 12 year old boy.  The man has been a Christ-follower now for 16 years, and his record has been unblemished.  He was recently released from prison.  The preacher felt like it was the Christlike thing to do to give this man a second chance.  I admire that.  And yet, I wonder about bringing the man into his home with his 5 children.

But the neighbors are outraged.  They are holding demonstrations in front of the preacher's house.  They are afraid to let their children play outside.  One mother said her daughter cannot go to sleep at night until the mother checks every room and closet.  The people are living in fear.  And to some degree, I can understand that.

One lady said, "There are other people who are more deserving of 2nd chances."  Huh?

Another woman said, "People don't change."  So much for the gospel.

Still another said that people with criminal minds just don't become Christians.

So, what would YOU do? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Jesus Creed

I'm reading a book right now entitled The Jesus Creed, by Scot McKnight.  It is a really good read.  He shows how Jesus took the Shema (Jewish creed found in Deut. 6: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind") and reshaped it into His own creed.  While keeping the emphasis upon the Shema, Jesus showed how loving God necessitates loving people as well ("and love your neighbor as yourself").  His life was the living out of this creed -- which He calls His followers to join Him in.

The book moves through passages and New Testament characters -- showing how this "creed" played out.  In one chapter, McKnight shows how Joseph put his reputation on the line by being faithful to God.  As a follower of Torah, it would have been proper for him to put Mary away -- or even have her punished.  But what would become "the Jesus Creed" called him to a higher way.

Here is a quote:  
"Sometimes the implication of listening to the voice of God is that we ruin our reputation in the public square. Loving God, as the Jesus Creed teaches, involves surrendering ourselves to God in heart, soul, mind, strength -- and reputation.  The minute we turn exclusively to the Lord to find our true identity is the day reputation dies.  We learn, as Thomas a Kempis puts it, that when you surrender your reputation, "you won't care a fig for the wagglings of ten thousand tongues."        

Good stuff!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Dreamer

Beverly and I spent the last few days in Memphis with our "East of the Mississippi" kids and grandson.  We had a great visit, and enjoyed being able to worship with the church where they serve.

Sunday afternoon, my son and I went to the National Civil Rights Museum, which occupies the Lorraine Hotel in which Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered.  It was interesting getting to relive some of the history I remember from childhood.  Much of the activity of the "movement" took place not far from where I was raised from 1960-1968 -- Jackson, Mississippi.  I still am amazed that people ever lived in such ignorance as to treat other human beings in such ways as we did (and continue to do).

I was reminded all over again of what a great man Dr. King was.  Hanging over his head through the years was my accepting as fact that he had been a philanderer.  Yet the ONLY evidence for that was a supposed tape from a supposed bug that had been planted where he was staying on one occasion.  This tape supposedly offered proof that Dr. King was having an affair.  No names were ever mentioned.  No other evidence ever produced.  With the level of hatred J. Edgar Hoover harbored for Dr. King, why was the planting of evidence never considered?

He was a modern-day prophet.  Listen to the speech he delivered the night before he was murdered in Memphis -- his "I've been to the mountaintop" speech.  It will give you goose bumps.  Dr. King told his friends that he would never live to see 40, and he was gunned down at age 39.

Or read his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."  Wow!  Incredible.      

On the site, just a few feet from the balcony where Dr. King was murdered, is a plaque.  It reads from the book of Genesis, and says, "And they said one to another, behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him... and we shall see what will become of his dreams."

May his dream live on!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

T. O. and the Bail-out

I guess my recent words about being an EX-Cowboy fan have gotten Jerry Jones' attention (yeah, right).  He did take one step back toward legitimacy by getting rid of T. O.  Last year's tantrum during a crucial stretch in the season may have proven to be fatal to the team.

I truly hope the bail-out package works.  Rooting for its failure seems to be like the old saying, "Cutting off your nose to spite your face."  America (and the world) is hurting right now, and hoping for the bail-out's failure so that one party can gain later just seems sick.  That party had a chance to do a lot over the last 8 years, and squandered it.  So, lick your wounds and come back stronger and with an attitude that will help America, and not just the party.

Sure, there are things in the bail-out that I don't particularly like.  I have a lot of trouble with this idea of helping people stay in houses that they couldn't afford to begin with.  So they got loans for much more house than they could afford -- loans that allowed them to pay only the interest.  Now the housing market has dropped -- and they are upside down in their house.  A house that they NEVER should have bought to begin with!      

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Tribute to Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey passed away on Saturday.  I have such fond memories of this man.  No news person could do radio like him.

My earliest memory of Harvey was one summer day (I may have been 10) when I accompanied my dad as we drove a through Mississippi on a couple of calls he had to make.  I had brought along a book to read while I waited in the car.  As we were driving along, "Paul Harvey News" came on.  And I was hooked! 

In 5th grade, my teacher would have us listen every day to Paul Harvey, and she would then give us a pop test.  Many of the kids hated that 15 minutes.  But I loved it.  One day, the teacher said she had to go to the lounge for a few minutes, but we were to be quiet and listen to the news.  Well, no one did.  She had actually tricked us.  She went to the office, listened to the radio there -- and came back and gave us a test.

Harvey could tell a story that would make you feel like you were there.  His "Rest of the Story" was broadcasting brilliance.  His faith and patriotism inspired.

"Hello, America.  This is Paul Harvey . . . Stand by for news!"  "Now page two."  Paaaaaul Harvey -- good day."  I can hear his voice in those lines.  He will be missed.          

Monday, March 02, 2009

"Helping Hands"

On Monday, March 9, we will officially begin our "Helping Hands" ministry.  We will be opening our clothing closet to the community.  We have people who have / do serve in the clothes retail business that have taken this project on.  I am so proud of the work they have done!

We are, to my knowledge, the only church in Decatur that will have such a ministry.

Our hours will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 AM to 2 PM.  People need to come to the office building, as "Helping Hands" is located adjacent to it.

If you know of anyone in need, send them our way.  Or if you have some clothes you are wanting to get rid of, we will take them!