A Battle: Colored Corn Starch

It’s not so much the heat, but the humidity. It’s more of a moist heat. 

Where?

Over Memorial Day weekend I attended our church’s Family Camp. It’s nice there, with a beautiful lake and all kinds of fun things to do. We had 30 families with a total of a 140 grandparents, parents, and kids. It was great.

What?

We had our annual “color war.” Teams are organized and given a Dixie cup used to fill and refill with colored powder. The whistle blows and we throw the powder on the other teams. It quickly descended into a free-for-all melee. That means all of them got a free shot at all of me. I left the field covered in blue, orange, yellow, and red. 

It was an epic beatdown. 

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Last year’s epic beatdown. This year was worse!

Result?

It was 90+ degrees with humidity around 114%. I was weak, dizzy, and confused. Then after the color war I was even worse! I ran and chased little kids because I could keep up with them. They chased me back and we laughed. When it was over I limped off in ignominious defeat. 

It was hot and sticky. I was a mess and I was done. 

Dignified?

Forget about it. There is no dignity in being a walking tie-dye shirt. But dignity wasn’t required. It was a time for silliness, for fun, and for interacting with kids and their parents in ways that never happen anywhere else. 

And Jesus?

Well, please don’t be bothered for I mean no disrespect. But I imagine Jesus being out there tossing the powder. I imagine the children running after him with wide eyes and big smiles. I can easily see him having fun, being silly, and making the children laugh. 

To Close

Perhaps I care too much about dignity and what others people think. Decorum and appropriateness are foundational to good character. It’s true. 

But don’t forget to laugh, to play, and be silly. There is an inner child in all of us, there is in me, and every now and then it’s a good thing to let him out to play.

Ours is more of a moist heat.

Shalom

 

Needing a Consultant

There are times when I could really use a consultant. 

Whom Would I Choose?

I would choose the apostle Paul. Here are some reasons:

  1. Acts 9-28 are dedicated to his conversion, ministry, and mission.
  2. After Acts, 13 of the remaining 23 books were written by him.
  3. He was the apostle to the Gentile world.
  4. He lived in Roman society: a cosmopolitan, decadent, idolatrous world.

 What Would I Consult About? 

  1. how to live Christianity in an increasingly pluralistic culture
  2. the role of Christianity in today’s social and political arenas
  3. not the 1st century, but applications of scripture for the 21st century
  4. his advice about mission and ministry in our modern society

Same or Different

Perhaps his advice would be the same as it was in his day. Or would it? The principles would remain the same, but I wonder about the applications. Our 21st-century, western  world represents some conundrums his Roman world didn’t have. Would the reverse also be true? 

The Struggle

Did the 1st-century church contend with the same immorality and violence? Christians were openly arrested, persecuted, and killed. Idols temples dotted the corners. Every kind of sexual perversion was accepted and practiced. Yes, the early church struggled. 

Modern Man

I live in a nation of sophistication, with a strong rule of law, a deep respect for God, and a place of peaceful coexistence. A country that champions diversity with equal rights for all. A society committed to the highest standards of moral decency.

But lately, it doesn’t feel like it. 

To Close

I’m sure Paul faced the same challenges, issues, and concerns. He would point me to his 13 letters where all the answers can be found. 

worn out bible 1

I’m also sure he would sympathize with our school shootings, our ripping ourselves apart with rabid infighting, and our culture losing its moral compass. 

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There are times when I could really use a consultant. 

Shalom 

When Its Close To Home

I really don’t know what to say.

Violence

Its easier to cope with violence when it’s not in your own yard. Its still tragic, but a little less so when it happens someplace else to someone else. When it happens in your town, to people you know, well, that’s harder to cope with. 

The Weekend

From Friday to Sunday people around our nation have died. They have died in car accidents, from gang killings, drunk drivers, and from home invasions.

Last night, a man entered a restaurant, got his family seated, then went outside and crashed his car into the restaurant, killing two and wounding others. Last night a Houston woman was shot to death by a man wanting her cell phone. 

I guess the only good thing about weekend violence is that the schools are closed.

Lots of people died last week in America. However, when death happens in our schools, to our children, then we feel vulnerable and helpless. 

SantaFeHSCA

What People Say

Some say school shootings are the result of guns being too easily available. Some say the violence is the result of decades of violent television, movies, and video games. Others suggest that the perpetrators are kids who have been bullied. Others offer that the shooters are abused kids raised in abusive homes. 

That’s what some say.

I Know One Thing

I’m not an expert, but I feel certain about one thing, it isn’t over. There will be more mass murders in our schools. 

It’s A Problem

It’s hard to know what to do or how to do it. Are America’s kids at risk? Are the children of our nation in crisis? Are our families broken? It’s a problem we don’t seem to know how to solve. Are we rudderless and lost?

To Close

My prayers go out to the families, students, and people of Santa Fe, Texas; a community practically next door to me. I don’t know if my prayers are comforting, but I hope so. I hope their burdens of fear and grief are just a little easier today. I am so sorry for their loss. 

I really don’t know what to say.

Could The Preaching Be Better, Pt. 2

Monday’s blog was about sermons.  

Sermons?

Actually, it was about trying to predict what people want to hear. Having preached for forty years and having delivered 3500 sermons I have some skill in public communication, but thats not the same as knowing what people want.

The variations are intriguing. There are different styles of preaching that people like and many opinions as to how long they should have to listen. There are lots of topics and all kinds of subject matter that people ask to hear about. 

Many of You

Pertaining to Monday’s blog, many of you reached out to me about not getting discouraged. Thank you for doing so and for offering such kindness. But I wasn’t upset or complaining. I assure you that I am neither discouraged or disappointed. In fact, I am enthused and energized! 

No one has been negative or critical. In fact, the comments and suggestions from the groups have all been politely expressed and stated positively.

rick and chicken
Nothing to do with the blog topic. Just me and a chicken.

And Paul

I am reminded of Paul’s admonition to Timothy:

“Preach the word; be prepared always; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For people will gather teachers who will say what their itching ears want to hear. But you…do the work of an evangelist.” 2 Timothy 4

In Closing

I love being a preacher and I love preaching. Every Sunday I get the honor of speaking to the warmest, more receptive congregation I’ve ever known, and I get to do it twice!

I’ll probably never be good at anticipating what people want to hear. But it’s okay, it really doesn’t matter. As I mentioned yesterday, the sermons I deliver originate from a higher source. 

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. My love to all. 

Shalom

Could the Preaching be Better?

I wish I was better at it, but I’m not.

Better At What?

Better at preaching. I’ve been preaching for forty years and still haven’t figured out what people want to hear. I’ve delivered around 3,500 sermons, a number representing Sunday morning and evening sermons, workshops, meetings, seminars, retreats, and special occasions. 

I’ve probably improved over the years, but who knows?

The Comments

Over the last several weeks, with a few weeks to go, I’ve conducted vision groups with my church. Each group has averaged about 15 people with a total of 27 groups. When finished I will have met with about half of the adult congregation. 

I ask each group the same three questions, primarily for their feedback relating to our vision for the future. But one of the questions addresses our worship services, including the sermons. Here are a few of the comments I’ve received about my preaching:

  1. Sermons are too long.
  2. Sermons are too short.
  3. Need sermons that have more heart.
  4. Need sermons that address personal struggles.
  5. Need sermons about coping with culture.
  6. Need sermon series that are topical.
  7. Need sermon series that go through books of the bible.
  8. Need sermons with fire and brimstone.
  9. Need more sermons that step on our toes.
  10. Need sermon series about other beliefs.
  11. Need more lessons about family. 
  12. Need more lessons from your holy land travels.
  13. Need lessons that teach us how to defend our faith.
  14. Need lessons about coping with failure. 
  15. Need lessons that teach us how to live right.
  16. Could the sermon notes be printed each week?
  17. Could you speak louder?
  18. Could you speak softer? 
  19. Could you preach sermons like I used to hear when I was young.
  20. We should not have sermons every week. 

 None of them were critical, negative or unkind. They were just comments.

And…?

Well, I appreciate the feedback. I do. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of it, but I appreciate it. 

I think they like it that I took the time to ask. In the interest of full disclosure, there’s been many comments about how much the sermons are appreciated.

 I can’t please everyone all of the time. Actually, I can’t please everyone any of the time. Perhaps the goal is to please a majority of the people a majority of the time.

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Maybe if I were more sophisticated, or polished, or better attired? 

In Closing

I preach what the Lord puts on my heart. I preach what comes out of my study, prayers, and mediation. I preach what the Holy Spirit gives me. Is it effective? Is it what people want to hear? I don’t know. I’ve never been very good at figuring out what people want to hear. 

I wish I was better at it, but I’m not.

Shalom

 

Five Hundred and Counting!

I’m struggling just a bit.

About What?

About coming up with interesting things to write about. I’ve blogged a lot in the last 2.5 years, and this one is #504. That’s 202 blogs a year or about four a week.

Seriously?

I’m actually surprised that I’ve found that many things to write about. I’m not that interesting, and nobody says I’m creative, and frankly, I’m not terribly bright to begin with!

However

I do have followers, not many, but I have them. Among them is my Mother who has commented that my blogs have slowed from four a week to one every two weeks. I guess I need to pick up the pace.

Here is a list of topics I’ve considered blogging about:

  • The plight of the Indonesian Red Beak hummingbird.
  • The raging debate over NFL footballs improperly inflated.
  • Determining if Americans are in fact eating fewer beets.
  • Whether or not I should replace my sub woofer.
  • The usage of the word “why” when women say, “Why thank you.” 
  • If the electric wiring harness in my car is functioning properly.
  • Should I buy new shoes instead of having them resoled again.

That’s a good list and could reenergize my blogging, or not, I’m not sure. After a quick Google search, it turns out there isn’t an Indonesian Red Beak hummingbird. Not sure where that came from.

To Close

I suppose there are still worthwhile topics, observations and insights to write about. Perhaps I’ve been a bit fatigued or distracted or even busy doing my regular job. Nevertheless, I’ll seek to do better. 

Five Hundred Blogs

I’m aiming high and reaching for the stars. Here’s to the next five hundred!

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That’s me, next to a Rabbi, at Jerusalem’s Western Wall Shalom

Passing Faith To Our Kids

A Warm and Loving Presence

That’s what it takes according to a four decade study of 350 families with each family having three or four  generations. The research was aimed at answering the following questions:

  1. How is religious faith transmitted to the each generation?
  2. Why are some families successful at transmitting faith and others are not?
  3. Can the reasons for success and failure be identified and measured?

An Interesting Project

Social scientists invested 40 years surveying the members of each family’s generations. The same survey was give each year asking about faith and levels of religious commitment. And the results? 

This Sunday at the Southeast Church of Christ in Friendswood, TX at 8:30 and 10:45, I’ll be sharing the primary results of the study. You are welcome to come or to watch online from our site: www.southeastonline.org

And if you care to, take a few minutes to watch: VLOG: “I Love Being a Father”

The Dads

How many kinds of dads are there? What kind of dad did you have or still have? What kind of dad are you? Forgive me if the following seems stereotypical:

  1. The engaged, loving, attentive dad
  2. The missing in action dad 
  3. The always too busy dad
  4. The deceased dad
  5. The dad who is divorced from your mom
  6. The abusive dad
  7. The harsh, bullying, uncaring dad

And others. 

Ideally

The best scenario is for every family to have two loving parents who are present, engaged and leading their children well. But that’s not always how it is, is it? 

I have deep respect for single parents who strive to provide everything they can for their children, doing everything that normally requires two parents to do. God bless them.

The Apostle Paul commended Timothy for his faith, which he said came from Timothy’s  mother and grandmother. His dad was mentioned too but not for his faith. Single moms can raise Godly kids. Single dads can raise Godly kids too. But for each, it’s tougher.

What Happens?

What happens to the home, to kids and to families, if the father is present but unengaged? Or if he leaves and has minimal involvement, if any? How much harder is it for everyone? 

Each generation has its challenges for passing faith to the next generation. How are we doing in transmitting our beliefs to our kids and grandkids? What’s our report card?

god lending a hand

How true is it that we can’t force our children to love the Lord? We can’t make them believe. We must train, teach, mentor, encourage, support and pray for them. We must make sure they have every opportunity to know the love of God. But in the end, its up to them to decide. 

In Closing

It’s vital for parents to have strong convictions and a good understanding of how to pass their faith to their children, and to their children, and so on. And having a loving father, or father figure, is still the best case scenario for faith transmission.

A Warm and Loving Presence?

We will see.