The Wookii Effect

There are places for men with really hairy backs who wear tank tops?

Sure, Such As?

  • the beach
  • the internet
  • carnivals 

Places They Shouldn’t Be?

  • fashion shows
  • bill boards
  • church

Did that last one surprise you? It did me too but then I was there in 1997. 

Where?

In church when a man with Wookii like body hair walked in and sat down wearing a tank top. I noticed him right away, he was hard to miss.

Wookii
Not the gentleman from 1997 but close, really very close.

Then It Was Monday Morning

 I began getting phone calls, letters and not a few drop by conversations from members. 

Even in 1997 tank tops were considered, by some, to be an undershirt. To go out in a tank top was to go out in your underwear. There were complaints and demands. There was a call for action, for a dress code, and that I should speak up for modesty and good taste. 

It was a long and difficult week. 

What Did I Do?

I took it to heart and the next Sunday I spoke against inappropriate clothing in church.

I said,

  • “You wouldn’t wear your swim suit to church.”
  • “You wouldn’t want your family coming in their underwear.”  
  • “You need to be sensitive to those around you and set a good example.” 

 I was thorough, clear, and effective. I was proud of myself. Good job Rick!

Then It Was Monday Morning, Again

I began getting phone calls, letters, and not a few drop by conversations from members.

They said it was inappropriate to set a dress code. They asked, “Where do you get the authority?”  People were mad, and they were mad at me. 

Well?

There was no pleasing them. I was either to soft or to hard. The younger people, my peers, were furious. 

They said, “In a growing church we need to do everything we can to reach out to the community and the last thing we need is a dress code that makes them feel awkward and unwelcome.” Okay, good point. 

The others said, “In a growing church we need to do everything we can to reach out to the community and the last thing we need is inappropriately dressed members who make them feel awkward and unwelcome.” Okay, good point. 

Two sides of the same coin and I was getting flattened by both sides.

Something Interesting

  • Neither was willing to see the other’s point of view.
  • The two sides were generationally divided. 
  • Both used church growth as the basis for their objections.
  • Truthfully, it had little to do with growth and everything to do with preference. 

To Close

Ultimately, I gave a sermon appealing to everyone to see everybody’s point of view. I asked us to do what leads to peace and mutual edification, and to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit. I appealed on the basis of love.

I quit being the moderator of modesty and good taste.  

It worked.

Shalom 

 

Imperfections of Imperfect People

I’m not perfect. Here’s a thought, you aren’t either. 

The Rub

Here’s the rub: I’m comfortable with my imperfections but yours drive me crazy. I’m good at extending grace to myself and quick to excuse my weaknesses. However, there’s lots of people who need to shape up, and they need to hurry. 

Here’s Something

According to the Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs there is a saying tracing back to John Heywood in 1546. Then in 1738 it was used by Jonathan Swift in his Polite Conversation and appeared in the 1713 Works of Thomas Chalkley. The complete saying goes like this:

“There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.”

john-heywood-english-writer
 John Heywood, the author of those, “Who are blind and deluded.”

How true it is that others are blind and deluded, the poor souls. 

The Manifestations

Here is a partial list of how imperfections are manifested:

  • arrogance
  • pride
  • ego
  • even bigger ego
  • compensating for inadequacy 
  • hiding the truth about themselves
  • believing themselves right about everything and everyone 
  • always thinking they are the smartest one in the room 
  • quick to give unsolicited advice about what is right and what to do
  • ruled by anger, frustrated by disagreement, resentful of different ideas

Their opinions are unscrutinized, there judgements unexamined, their ideas unvetted. They go about life believing that whatever they think is true. The juxtaposition is they tend to be critical of others who manifest the very same peccadilloes. 

They speak their judgements openly and without consideration. As if the whole world sits on the edge waiting to hear them speak. 

But enough about me. 

Some Wisdom

Proverbs 7:20-22

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”

“Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may here your servant cursing you–for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.”

 

James 2:12-13

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.

Mercy triumphs over judgement.”

 

Matthew 5:7

“Blessed are the merciful  for they will be shown mercy.”

To Close

We live in an imperfect world but the world’s imperfection is us, the broken and fallen. The world is imperfect because it’s inhabited by imperfect people. I’m one of them. I tend to be blind and deluded. 

And you?

I Like Coffee and Donuts

Some places are special, some are structures and some are pieces of land.

  • Gettysburg
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Ground Zero: 9-11 
  • Valley Forge
  • Arlington Cemetery 

Why?

A place becomes sacred because something deeply significant happened. Sacred ground may be a battlefield, a national memorial, or a cross on the side of the road marking the death of a loved one. 

It’s sacred because it’s sacred to us, or to God. 

An Example

“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, (Mt. Sinai) the mountain of the Lord.”

“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses thought, 

‘I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.’

‘Do not come any closer,’ God said.

‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.'”

Holy Ground?

Why was the ground holy? Had something special happened there? The answer is no. The ground was holy because God was there and he is holy.

God’s Omnipresence

Here’s a thought: If God is omnipresent then why isn’t everywhere holy ground? It’s a fair question. However, from Scripture it appears that a place was holy due to the direct presence or specific work of God. Some examples:

  • the burning bush
  • the Holy of Holies
  • the tabernacle or temple
  • the mount of transfiguration
  • the birthplace of Jesus

For Consideration

The place where Moses removed his sandals was holy because God’s presence made it holy. When God finished with Moses then the place on Mount Sinai ceased to be holy ground.  

When Moses threw his staff on the ground and it turned into a snake and then became a staff again God said,

“This is so they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers–the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has appeared to you.”

Miraculous things happen in the presence of God. Miraculous things happen on holy ground and at holy places. 

To Close

Can you imagine when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies that he did so carrying a Starbuck’s coffee? Or a Coke? Or a donut? Just a thought. 

coffee and donut 2
I like a good coffee and donut, but I won’t bring them to a wedding, funeral, or commencement ceremony. But to worship God? Hmmm.

Far be it from us to treat the holiness of God causally, right? And may we never make common what he has made sacred.

Shalom and May God Richly Bless You

The Scars of Life

Here are a few of the scars of my childhood.

  • Left Middle Finger: stuck my hand in a metal blade fan.
  • Right Thigh: pocket knife slipped off a piece of wood I was carving.
  • Right Forearm: a gash from being tackled in a Friday night game. 
  • Face and Shoulders: unusually large and painful blemishes/boils.
  • Broken Heart: when Becky, my first girl friend, broke up with me.

Some scars I wear like badges of honor. Not necessarily smart badges, but still. Some are painful reminders of a difficult and awkward adolescence. Some I show and talk about freely. Some I hide and prefer not to mention. 

“We all have scars, scars of body, mind, and soul.”

 Scar Tissue

Scars are formed when our skin is cut or ripped. The scars on our souls form when we are torn from within. Some result from deep grief and others from the battles of daily survival. Others are deeply painful memories. 

The Apostle Paul

Here is something Paul wrote to the churches in the Galatian Province, Galatians 6:14:

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

The cross was invented not by the Romans but it was certainly perfected by them. The body of Jesus was pierced by nails and a spear point. Not to mention his scalp and forehead from the crown of thorns and the deep cuts from the brutal scourging.

“To boast in the cross of Christ is to welcome the pain and persecution of others.” 

The Bible

He went on to say this in 6:17:

“Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”

He did. In 2 Corinthians 11 he mentioned that along with other violent treatment that he five times received the forty lashes minus one. From the back of his neck to the back of his knees must have been nothing but scar tissue. 

The Scars of Life

We all have them. While some are the result of accidents, others are the result of cruelty from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Perhaps most painful are the scars of the soul, and the memories we can’t let go of.

To Close

May the grace of our Lord be yours in abundance. May his peace be a balm to your soul. May his love immerse you like the warm embrace of a caring Father. 

Whatever your scars, I pray you find rest in the comfort that only He provides. 

Shalom

Happy Father’s Day to Me!

Yesterday was Father’s Day and a really good day.

Why?

  1. I got to speak to hundreds of fathers yesterday morning.
  2. It was a good morning of great worship about God as our Father.
  3. My kids came over to the house after church.
  4. They stayed all afternoon to swim, eat, and talk. 

Some Observations

I spoke with several fathers who were happy because their kids were home from college, or drove a long way or made a great effort to be at church for Father’s Day.

For a Dad there is nothing like having the family all together in church.

It Was Amusing

At both services I asked some younger children what they were doing for Father’s Day. Here are some of their answers:

  1. We bought him some stuff.
  2. We are going to his favorite place to eat.
  3. We are leaving him alone for three hours so he can watch the game.
  4. Mom gave us money to buy him a gift. 
  5. I think we are going out for pizza.

Someone said this,

“Father’s Day is different from Mother’s Day, Father’s Day doesn’t cost as much.”

Well put.

I got Father’s Day cards and a power tool that I didn’t really need but absolutely wanted.

chain saw
Not the power tool I received for Father’s Day, but close, really very close.

I like Father’s Day, it’s a good idea. But if I can speak for Dad’s everywhere we don’t really care about having a special day. We appreciate the gifts because they come from our kids, but sooner or later we will buy whatever tool to tie we need. Men know how to bless themselves. 

No, it’s not the tools, the ties, or eating out.  It’s our kids. Father’s Day is another opportunity to connect and bond with our children. If our kids are grown then its another moment to have them close.

“It’s them, our kids, that are the true gift for Father’s Day.”

To Close

Yesterday was a good day. I got a lovely meal and a great new power tool.

But mostly it was good because my kids were home. We ate together and sat at the dinning table and talked for an hour. We played and frolicked in the pool. Later we watched a movie and snacked on good stuff. Happy Father’s Day to me!

I love being a Father.

“I Love You Dad”

The Many Faces of God

  • Creator
  • Judge
  • Shepherd
  • Rock
  • Lord
  • King
  • Provider
  • Sustainer 
  • Giver
  • Father

Just to mention a few.

God As Father

God as a Father is a dominant theme in Scripture, perhaps the most dominant of all.

Within the Trinity God is a Father. I’ve never heard the Trinity referenced without “Father” being first. Why is that? Is it the strongest and most natural metaphor? 

He is loving, kind, forgiving, patient, protective and reliable. 

This Sunday is Father’s Day. A day to honor Dads, to say thank you. My kids will come over and be nice to me. It’s Father’s Day, perhaps there will be cake.

Not Everyone

Not everyone had a Dad at home, and some who did didn’t have a good experience. Some have a Dad but due to divorce he lives somewhere else. Some have recently lost their Dad and Father’s Day will be hard.

Some would love to be a Dad but as a couple they are having trouble conceiving, which can be deeply disappointing and discouraging. 

Some Dads have lost a child, or children. Father’s Day will be hardest on them.

And Me?

The most interesting things about me are my kids. We wanted more children, but it wasn’t to be. We thank God daily for the two we have. 

I imagined my kids being small replicas of me. They would look like me and talk like me and like all the things I like. Well, there are some similarities, but by and large my kids are not like me. They have different interests and ambitions and neither likes sports. Good grief. 

What I Like Best

  • talking to them
  • eating with them
  • traveling together
  • when they call asking advice
  • when something cool happens to them
  • when they come to me in the hard times
  • watching them mature
  • Christmas morning
  • birthdays
  • any day I get to spend time with them

To Close

God has many faces. My favorite is God as a Father. His example can be tough to follow but everything that makes him a good Father is everything I strive to be. 

Fathers-Day-Cards-To-Make

To All the Dads, Happy Father’s Day

 

 

Three’s a Crowd?

I was thinking about the number 3.

Biblically…

Gideon’s army was whittled down to 300.

Moses had those who worshipped the golden calf killed, 3,000 died.

golden calf
Not the calf the Hebrew people worshipped, but close, really very close.

King Saul took 3,000 men to hunt for David. 

Job had 3,000 camels.

King Solomon wrote 3,000 proverbs.

Samson pulled the pillars down and killed 3000 Philistines. 

Peter and the apostles baptized 3000 on the day of Pentecost.

Jesus had 3 disciples who were especially close: Peter, James and John.

Elijah prayed 3 times for rain.

Jesus prayed 3 times for the cup to pass.

There were 3 on the Mount of Transfiguration: Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

In the parable of the good Samaritan, 3 passed by, one stopped to help.

Jesus was 30 when he launched his ministry.

He was 33 when he died.

Jesus showed the 3 holes to his apostles, his hands and his side.

Peter denied Jesus 3 times. 

There were 3 crosses on Golgotha that day.

Jesus was in the tomb 3 days.

God is 1 but 3: Father, Son, and Spirit. 

Personally…

My parents had 3 sons.

My first date had her mother tag along. 

It took me 3 tries to pass my driver’s test. 

I’ve backed out of the garaged 3 times with the car door open.

I’ve been in 3 automobile accidents, two were bumper bumps, one wasn’t. 

I’ve been to Israel 3 times. 

I’ve done mission trip to 3 countries: Mexico, China, and Haiti.

I’ve climbed Mount Everest 3 times.

 I asked a girl for a date 3 times, she said no 3 times, then she married me.

All of the above 3’s are true except for 3 of them. 

In Conclusion

After careful consideration I’ve determined that I don’t have anything significant to say about the number 3. 

But thanks for reading this blog to the end.