Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start (1)The Supremes — Much discussion regarding the Supreme Court decision last week regarding same-sex marriage. I found several posts helpful. See these two posts by John Mark Hicks.  This one was posted Saturday and this posted Sunday.  You might also look at this post by Harding School of Theology professor, Carlus Gupton.  Also from First Things see “After Obergefell: A First Things Symposium.”

Work — See Christine Porath’s piece from The New York Times, It’s Time to Be Nice at Work.” From Business Insider see “9 Things Successful People Do Right Before Bed.”

Leadership — See Jason Garrett’s video  “Jason Garrett Princeton Varsity Club Citizen-Athlete Award Speech.”  A good speech on leadership.

Risk —I love this quote I heard this week from actor Tom Selleck playing his character on a Blue Bloods episode.  At one point he said “Risk is the price you pay for opportunity.”  I really like that!

Not What I Would Expect — You might enjoy this interesting article from the New York Times.  “A Cleaner Fleet Week: What Do You Do With a Cultured Sailor?

Five Qualities of People You Can Trust

trust puzzleSeveral years ago, Charlotte and I were at dinner with several friends.  I realized at the end of our evening together that I had felt very relaxed throughout this dinner.  We talked, laughed, and told stories.  There was a certain ease about the evening.  It dawned on me later how special the evening really was.  I realized that I had been with people who I trusted.

I value friendships where deep trust exists.  This kind of trust does not typically happen overnight.  It can take months and even years to develop.  When deep trust exists in friendships, it is very special.

Of course, I want to be in the presence of people who are trustworthy.  The place to begin, however, is by making sure that I am a trustworthy person myself.

So what are some qualities of people you can trust?

1.  A trustworthy person is genuine.  When you get to know this person, you realize they have no hidden agenda.  This person is not trying to use you or manipulate you.  Rather, this person has a certain authenticity about her.

Seven Characteristics of a Great Dad

(Just Before Father's Day)

baseballWhat is a great dad?  Maybe he is a dad like the picture to the right.  After all, this is a good scene, isn’t it?  A father and son spend time together playing baseball. Many sons have good memories of their dads teaching them to play catch or how to hit a ball.

Yet, being a great dad is more than this.  Being a great dad is about passing on character and goodness which will bless generations to come.

Some what are some of the qualities of a great dad?

1.  A great dad treats the mother of his children with adoration and respect.  Little children see it all! Nothing gets by them.  They see the contemptuous looks and they hear the words that drip with sarcasm. The way you treat their mother, impacts the way they will treat others later on.

Focus on the Heart (Part 2 of 2)

Choosing Spouses, Ministers, etc.

Mid-Level_Challenges_Poor_Selection_Process2Like choosing a mate, sometimes churches seem to focus on the “outward appearance” when it comes to selecting a minister.  Sometimes it seems that we are preoccupied with finding a minister who like King Saul of Israel will look the part.

Years ago, a church leader called me regarding a reference check of a prospective minister for their congregation. He explained that this person was not one of their “first tier” candidates.  (I had not heard that language before in reference to selecting a minister.)  He explained that they had hoped to get a minister who was widely known and already had a following.  He mentioned several names of people who, at the time, were speaking in a number of workshops, lectureships, and other highly visible events across the country.  What was interesting was their rationale for placing these people on their “first tier” list.

Yet, perhaps we would do well to consider what a focus on the heart (I Samuel 16:7) might look like as we consider a prospective minister for a congregation.

A few questions we might reflect on:

1.  Does this minister seem to hunger for God?  Is this minister’s moral and ethical life congruent with he claims to believe?

Focus on the Heart – (Part 1 of 2)

Choosing Spouses, Ministers, etc.

He sat in my office and looked troubled.  He said, “We are engaged, yet I’m not sure I want to go through with this wedding.  There is physical attraction, but I am troubled about some other matters.”

Far too many people, as they consider a potential spousethink-md, put their priority on physical attraction.  How attractive is she?  How attractive is he? While physical attraction may be a factor, Christ-followers have other concerns which stand first in the priority line.

Remember King Saul of Israel?  Tall.  A military leader. A warrior.  He looked the part.  Today, people today might say regarding a particular person, “He looks presidential.”  King Saul looked like a king.

Yet, even though he looked the part, he didn’t have the heart that God desired. Outwardly he may have appeared to be just right.  Yet, because of his heart, his life did not reflect what God wanted.  As Israel chose the next King of Israel, God desired to see a change.  God said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

When You are Afraid

fear4“Were you afraid?” she asked.  Of course I was.  We were moving across the country after living in Waco for twenty years.  We were leaving the known and entering the unknown.  Yes, I know fear. Typically I become afraid of what could happen.  After all, “What if?”

Meanwhile, early this morning I sat at a table in Starbucks.  I was near the door.  My cup of coffee was to my right.  My computer was open.  I was working on a document for a lunch meeting that I would have in a few hours.  The morning was calm. People were coming and going, each leaving with a cup of coffee.  I anticipated a full day with several meetings scheduled and some other work that I needed to take care of.  The sun was shining and all was well.  Fear was nowhere to be found.

However, there are times when I have awakened in the middle of the night only to be faced with my fears.

1.  What if the situation I am working through goes bad?  What will I do or say?

2.  What about my children?  What about their future?  Will they be all right?

3.  What if I die suddenly?  What will Charlotte do?  Will she be all right?

4.  What about my work and ministry?  What if I’m not as competent as I should be?

5.   What about my health?  What if I am suddenly stricken by disease?

Living as the Community of God

CampI read the first few chapters of the book, Living as the Community of God.  I was hooked.

The book is basically a commentary on Deuteronomy.  Yet, it is so much more.  I opened the book and read “Introduction: Why Bother with Deuteronomy.” The author Phillip Camp, Associate Professor of Bible in the Hazelip School of Theology at Lipscomb University, gives the reader ten reasons why the book matters for a Christian. For example:

(1)  It shows what it means to be in a faithful relationship with God and invites us into such a relationship.

(2)  It highlights the grace of God for his people and for all people.

(3)  It teaches a great deal about the nature of God: his love, mercy, justice, righteousness, faithfulness, etc.

The list continues.  I was impressed each one of these reasons.  The reasons alone made me want to read the book.

What I especially appreciated about the book is that each chapter was well organized and well written.  Each chapter had two sections that were particularly interesting.  One section was called “The God of the Community.”  This section discussed God, and the theology of Deuteronomy and the Bible.

These Seven Really Don’t Matter

overwhelm_life21.  It doesn’t matter whether you live in the nicest subdivsion or whether you live in an older home.  After all, a home is a lot more than a house.

2.  It doesn’t matter whether you take your children on a far away vacation or whether you go somewhere only a couple of hours away.  The memories your children will have about this years vacation is not dependent on how much the trip costs.

What Kind of Community is Waco, Texas?

Waco,_TX,_welcome_sign_IMG_0664Sunday morning, 150-200 bikers gathered at a local restaurant.  They are members of five different gangs.  They are wearing their colors.  A short time later, there is violence.

9 bikers dead.  18 in the hospital.  Motorcycle gangs.  Guns.  A shoot-out with police.  Blood.  Death.

This takes place on a Sunday morning in one of the nicest shopping areas in Central Texas.  Wow. I would have thought something like this would have happened at a seedy bar late one Saturday night.

In December 2013, we moved from Waco, Texas to Memphis, Tennessee, after having lived in that city for twenty years. The news is filled with details of these gangs and the shootings last Sunday.  No doubt people will be talking about this tragedy in Waco for many years.

Having lived in Waco for twenty years, I can tell you that there is another important story about this city.  This city has much that is good and is actually a wonderful place to live, raise children, and serve God.

Review: Bringing Heaven to Earth

RossStormentI just read Bringing Heaven to Earth by Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment.  This sentence caught my attention, “What is a Christian’s responsibility to bring to bear God’s will in this corner of the world, so that people throughout Memphis might come to experience a hint of what life is like in heaven?”

Maybe this sentence caught my attention because I live in Memphis.  Or maybe it caught my attention because I have seen the power of a believer’s behavior, witness, and ministry in places that would otherwise be dark.  Unfortunately, I have also seen the power of a believer’s behavior when one has been inattentive and even apathetic toward the world.  Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment have written a book in which they explore the possibilities of the renewing and restoring work of God.  This is so important in a world that is broken and dark.  The book is a challenge for Christians to be serious about allowing themselves to be used by God.

Unfortunately, the answer to a dark world for some is to attempt to insulate oneself and one’s family.  I once had a conversation with a person who said she was trying to figure out a way to surround her family with Christians and only Christians.  The family moved to a street where several young couples from church already lived.  They had a Christian doctor, lawyer, and dentist, all from their congregation.  Their children went to a Christian school.  Her husband worked in a firm which consisted, primarily, of Christian people.

There is no problem, of course, with any one of these.  It is fine to go to a Christian school.  No problem with having a doctor, lawyer, or dentist who is a believer. The problem is that they were trying to insulate themselves from the world instead of penetrating the darkness.

Perhaps much of this is due to fear.  I found Chapter 13 to be particularly helpful as the authors address the problem of fear as we live as believers in the world.

The book reminds us that the world is broken and dark and that the work of God’s Kingdom involves restoring and renewing.