Archive for November, 2012

Ordinary, Extraordinary Sundays

How was Sunday for you?

Friends, football, family, and fun are fine. But the highlight for me is to worship God in the company of the saints. I confess: in thirty-five years of pastoral ministry Sundays were important-even special. But they were work, too. Now, they bring anticipation, joy, and nourishment.

For sure, fellowship and interaction with other followers of Christ is like sweet icing. Since I started writing this column for the Herald-News, jokes are sometimes made that no one wants to talk to me because they fear they will end up in the paper. But Sunday, Chris still bravely told his story of a bicycle jumping over his head in a school program and brought joy, Ralph went out of his way to talk a good while after Sunday School of Discipleship and brought honor, and Jan spent considerable time after church catching up and asking encouraging questions about health and family. There Jan, you did make it into the paper after all…

But when it comes to desserts, the cake is the main thing, not the icing. And the worship was amazing. This God-focused time is the center-piece of Sundays. While I had some moments that disconnected me (I assisted with some deacon duties), Rick and his team led us in songs designed just for my heart, Effie gave a stunning testimony of God’s work in the community through the sacrificial service of our church family, and Pastor Doug gave a clear biblical message on the narrow way to salvation through Jesus alone.

Just think about what happens on Sundays when we respond positively to the Scriptural call to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.” We get to worship the one awe-inspiring Creator and Rescuer, Jesus Christ. In an amazing opportunity, we sit under teachers and pastors who present to us the very Word of God. We have the privilege to serve one another by listening to them, praying with and for them, taking up the offering, teaching or assisting with worship and kids, setting up classrooms and bulletin boards and coffee and paper towel dispensers. It all adds up to a God-centered life in the company of followers of Christ.

There is a rhythm in creation that requires giving and receiving, resting and ceasing from daily cares, worship and fellowship. Sunday is that weekly gift. We need Sundays. There are no Lone Rangers when we follow Jesus well and finish earth life strong. We trust God, and we serve and are blessed by His family.

This Thanksgiving Father, I praise You for ordinary, extraordinary Sundays.

Outlaw Faith

My sister-in-law and I ended up washing dishes together again. Again. I will explain.

I write this column each time hoping all ages will listen in, but I write as a baby boomer experiencing the daily love of God. I write believing what the Apostle Paul said is true, “God is at work in you to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

One of the dangers of the boomer season of life is we forget that promise and, instead, we dwell on what has been. So, I have intentionally set out to write about the gifts of a generous God who is at work constantly. What a privilege. Those gifts can be great and small, ongoing or one time—and all are gifts of grace.

You may chuckle at this, but one of the chief joys of this season of life is my in-law relatives. Why, I don’t even know a funny mother-in-law joke (though I like them). Last weekend, some of them came from Colorado and middle Tennessee to visit my father and mother-in-law in Athens. I not only “married up,” but I married into a wonderful family that made me one of their own.

I could tell you about each of them with great joy, but because I am uniquely lifted up by her so much—and I threatened to write about her in this column—may I tell you about my outlaw sister-in-law?

Karen is outside the expected, orderly way most of us relate to each other. She is most passionate about things that transcend usual baby-boomer discussions and life. Like an outlaw, Karen is on the run from baby boomer cultural preoccupations and controlling expectations. She wants to talk about Christ and the things of Christ.

Dish washing is our special time. These can be intense, passionate discussions. We talk about the thing we most have in common: our faith. “What good Christian book are you reading?” “What are you learning these days?” She’s far better at initiating this than I am.

Here’s the cream that rises to the surface with Karen: Lots of things are really good and important, but Christ and the kingdom of God are the most thrilling. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve talked about the idols of our boomer generation that substitute for the absolute delight and splendor of being in relationship with the God of the universe who made everything for His pleasure and our good.

Karen, I still remember, when, as a very young new follower of Christ you sat me down one night to talk about faith and life and Jesus. I was thrilled, and now that I think about it, that night set me on a life-long course of encouraging others to engage in growing together in Christlikeness called disciplemaking. You still do that.

Who has God brought into your sphere of influence that you can lift up with Christ today?

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