Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Favorite Week

Much of my life revolves around the life of our church.  I am a pastor. As such, I lead a church.  My weekly schedule is determined by the meeting times of the church.  I know what I will be doing each Sunday and each Wednesday of the year. 

In addition to the weekly schedule, there are annual events.  One such annual event in the life of our church is Vacation Bible School.  An annual event that our church wrapped up last night (at the time of this writing). 

As I reflect back on my many weeks in Vacation Bible School, this is one of my favorite weeks in the year.  When I was a child, it was a fun week.  We would play games, and eat snacks, and learn Bible stories.  I remember getting a sno-cone at Bible School and being chased by a honey-bee – at least it seemed like the bee was chasing me. 

Now, Vacation Bible School remains a fun week.  Some of the fun is the same – we still play games, eat snacks, and talk about the Bible.  Some of the fun has expanded.  During this week, perhaps more than other week of the year, I get to see the members of the church work together and enjoy being together.  It is a blessing to watch God’s people work together in love and unity.  It is a joy to meet and talk with the parents who bring their children to our Vacation Bible School.

It is also a tiring week. It is an interruption to our normal routines.  But it is just a glimpse into what the Apostle referred to as being spent for the sake of the gospel. 

As this year’s Vacation Bible School ends, I am thankful for the opportunity to work together with our church interacting with our community around the good news of Jesus Christ. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Good People

Our news reports are often filled with stories of anger and hate.  And it is easy because of that to look at people with suspicion.  Recently our family took a trip to Washington DC.  All in all, we found the people to be neither angry nor hateful.  Actually we found the people to be friendly and helpful.  And it was all kinds of people. 

Upon our arrival in DC, when we first got off the Metro Train, we paused at a map to get our bearings.  We hardly started looking at the map when an older Asian gentleman came up to us and offered to help us find our way. 

On one of the evenings as we were trying to find our way to a different Metro stop a Muslim lady kindly offered to help us sort out what we were looking for. She was gracious and kind. 

Then as we were traveling on the Metro one night back to our hotel, one of my sons started towards the door a stop or two early.  The young man – a twenty-something – by the door reached out to slow down or stop my son from getting off at the wrong place. 

As I reflect on each of these interactions, I am thankful for the kindnesses of good people.  It is so easy to go through life and miss or overlook the nice things people do for us. 

There was another fellow who was not nice or good towards us. In fact he called me a not-nice name.  Other than praying for his soul, I don’t really want to think about him. I would rather think about the nice, kind, helpful, friendly people that we met along our travels.  And I hope that as I interact with others that I will leave a positive impact on their lives. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Loving People and the Truth

One of the great challenges for Christians is to walk in the tension between loving people and the truth.  Of course, one of the main reasons for this tension is that Christians are themselves fallen and sinful people. 

As such, we have a tendency to error on one of two extremes.  We either are too lenient when it comes to sin. In which case, we know what the Bible says. We know what God expects. But we are willing to set aside God’s standards and expectations for the sake of our friends or loved ones.  We are simply too lenient. 

On the other hand, we can be so focused on the sin, that we are brash and pompous towards people.  We may be careful to hold the hard line (and the proper position) on a particular issue.  But in doing so, we forget that Jesus was yet humble and gracious and kind.  In these times we are too harsh and hurtful.  And, we must say that we have overlooked the Bible’s teachings on how we are to behave towards people. 

The Bible calls us to live faithfully holding on to both of the competing pressures.  We are to love people. We are to love people whose world-and-life views are completely different from ours. We are to love people who deny and reject the truths of Scripture.  And at the same time, we are to assert that their denial of truth is yet sin. 

Quite frankly it is a hard place to be. It is hard line to follow.  But no matter the difficulty, living in this tension is where we are called to live.  The people who know us best – and especially the people who disagree with us – should be struck by our kindness and compassion, even when they don’t like what we say.