Thursday, April 30, 2009

Check this out

This is an interesting marriage of Google Maps and the Bible. Select your version, book and chapter, and it will display the location for you. It might be a fun addition to your bible study routine.

Thanks to the Gadget Pastor for this.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Heroes

Recently we marked the sad anniversary of the Columbine shootings in Colorado. Columbine is but one of many, granted it was the largest, of the high school shootings. It's a sad phenomenon when adolescents feel so persecuted that their recourse is to kill others or injure themselves.


The video clip is a song by Superchick, and the message is one that each of us should take to heart. We all have a role to play in helping the disaffected, the bullied, the "unlovely" in the world see their value in Christ. That is how heroes are made.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Changes


This week was the 60th District Assembly of the Eastern Michigan District of the Church of the Nazarene. I attended as a delegate from our congregation and have several observations from the proceedings.


1. Without belaboring the obvious, it has been a tough year. Many churches have seen significant declines in their giving, and attendance. Some reported an exodus of people leaving Michigan for states where jobs are more plentiful. But the tone was one of optimism in the face of adversity, which truly embodies the Christian message. We have hope in Christ as we are aliens in this land.

2. New Birth. We officially organized a new congregation in Flint. It was encouraging to hear testimony from the believers in that nascent congregation about the power of God in their lives and the redemption that He has brought them. Praise be to God!

3. Passages. We said goodbye to some saints who have gone on to their eternal reward, and authorized the closing of a congregation in Detroit. My heart goes out to Sister Vera during this time. She has been a ray of light for her community, and I applaud her for the dignity with which she has handled this process. God Bless you Vera!

4. Mission. Despite all of the struggles, we heard numerous reports of lives being reclaimed from sin, of people finding hope in Jesus, and of the Kingdom of God advancing during difficult times. Praise God for his faithfulness and for the faithfulness of his people during difficult times.

I came away energized and raring to go. Come Lord Jesus, Come in your fullness.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Here is your chance to get a free book!

Bible Study Magazine and Eternal Perspective Ministries are giving away 40 signed copies of Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. Not only that, but they're also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Randy Alcorn page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Faith Like a Child

This past weekend I took temporary leave of my senses and hosted a lock-in for the children of the church. We had 14 kids, ages 4-12, spend the night and party with us. It was a great time. We made pizzas, played games, watched movies, fired up the DVD version of Family Feud, and baked the communion bread for Sunday. I was preaching on Sunday, and the kids administered the communion elements to the congregation. It was a powerful moment, and one that I am proud to have been part of.

I love these kids, and I love God for putting them into my life. Pray for them as they continue their journey of faith, with Faith like a Child.

Click on the video to see a little glimpse into our activities. I'm still tired, but I have a smile on my face. :)



Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Hound of Heaven


Take a minute and read Francis Thompson's classic poem "The Hound of Heaven" on this Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. Think about the Lord who laid in the grave, and then, when resurrected, pursues each of us out of love.

The Hound of Heaven
Francis Thompson (1859-1907)


I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat--and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet--
"All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."

I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest having Him, I must have naught beside);
But if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to.
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon.
I said to dawn, Be sudden; to eve, Be soon;
With thy young skyey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover!
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot 'thwart a heaven
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet--
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat--
"Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me."

I sought no more that after which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children's eyes
Seems something, something that replies;
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But, just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
"Come then, ye other children, Nature's--share
With me," said I, "your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
Wantoning
With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses'
Banqueting
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured daïs,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring."
So it was done;
I in their delicate fellowship was one--
Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
All that's born or dies
Rose and drooped with--made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine--
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day's dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning's eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's gray cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak--
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts of her tenderness;
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noisèd Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet--
"Lo naught contents thee, who content'st not Me."

Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenseless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years--
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must--
Designer infinite!--
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust;
And now my heart is a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mist confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With blooming robes, purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man's heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields
Be dunged with rotten death?

Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
"And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing,
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught," He said,
"And human love needs human meriting,
How hast thou merited--
Of all man's clotted clay rhe dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms.
But just that thou might'st seek it in my arms.
All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for the at home;
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!"

Halts by me that footfall;
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstreched caressingly?
"Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me."

Francis Thompson (1859-1907)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Some Good Friday videos to ponder

Just click on the videos and contemplate about Jesus' mission on this fateful day.



Here is one in English :)



An artsy look



And a beautiful, older song

Thursday, April 09, 2009

This is different

Here is a link to Glenn Beck reading the arrest, trial and crucifixion narrative of Jesus Christ with Pink Floyd music in the background.

It's different.

Maundy Thursday


Today is the day when we remember the Last Supper, and the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. What a night that must have been for Jesus and the disciples.

It's Passover, so Jerusalem is filled with people from other towns coming to Jerusalem for the Passover services. Jesus and the disciples are relaxing, having a meal, and then Jesus rolls a grenade into the party when he announces that one of them will betray him. He also tells Peter that he will deny him three times before dawn, and none of them can believe it.

They leave, go out to pray, and Jesus is arrested and the disciples scatter. In the span of just a few hours everything went from hunky-dory to a train wreck in the disciples' eyes. Their emotions had to be just whip-sawed by all that was taking place. And I'm pretty sure that Jesus' words about his impending trial and death began to make a lot more sense to them

This Maundy Thursday, take a moment to reflect on the interaction between Jesus and the disciples. Imagine yourself in their shoes, as all of this swirled around them. Imagine their, joy, confusion, agony, guilt and regret.

Then thank God for Jesus dying on a cross for you, and them.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Some good advice about Gossip

No, this isn't a how-to article. It's more of a how-not-to article that cuts into motivation, especially among Christians.

It's great advice for those who feel the need to pass along every internet rumor they come across.

A thought for Holy Week



This video clip brought me to tears again today as I watched it. As we move through Holy Week, the visual of Christ holding back the enemies of our soul is one that chokes me up every time I see it. There have been a lot of ugly things in our lives the past few months. Brain injuries, overdoses, cutters, and people in distress have all crossed my path. So many things are the enemy of our soul, and every so often I need to see Christ the Victor to remind me of that.

As you prepare for Good Friday and Easter, let this thought dwell in you. "What do you need Christ to keep away from you?" Then bring that to God.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sometime God just amazes me


This has been a strange semester for me. While I was away at Nazarene Theological Seminary in January, a couple body-blows landed pretty hard in just a couple of days. The first was news that an elderly neighbor that we have known since we moved to Monroe in 1996 had fallen, hit her head, and ruptured a blood vessel in her brain. At that time she had brain surgery and was on life-support with a very uncertain prognosis.. The other was that the economy here in Michissippi had caught up with one of my largest clients and they were giving up on the state, PR-wise. And would no longer need my services. The combined weight of those staggered me pretty hard while I was in Kansas City.

I felt so helpless being 800 miles from home and unable to minister to my neighbor and her family. I prayed, and asked my classmates to pray as well, but I so desperately wanted to be there. But I could not. Needless to say I was a bit distracted during class.

What I am excited to say is that in just 2 months, my neighbor has recovered enough to be out of the hospital and living in her daughter's home. I pray that she will recover enough to come back to our neighborhood, but if not, God has been exceedingly gracious to her thus far. She still has a ways to go with her speech and mobility, but she could have easily ended up like Natasha Richardson who died from a similar injury.

I can't say why God heals some people and not others. That is a decision made way above my pay grade. But I am grateful for the mercy he has shown my neighbor. And I am grateful for the prayers of my fellow students and my church in praying for a dear lady who has been a part of my life for quite a while.

This Holy Week I have something to celebrate beyond the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And I am so grateful for that.