Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category


Yes, I know.  I am weird.  While other people have dreams of many different things, I haven’t heard of many that dream sermons.  I do.  On occasion.

This week I had a dream about something that I should have known for a long time, but yet it seems to not make the top 10 of things on my mind.  But, as a believer, it should.

Jesus had a family.

Yep. Gotcha there.  We all know Jesus had a family on earth.  Mary was his mom.  Joseph his dad.  James was a brother (or technically half brother).  And, on and on.  Nothing new here.  Move along.

Nope.  That’s not what I meant.  Jesus had a family.  He had a mom and a dad.  Specifically, what came to mind was this passage that I will quote:

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
I used the King James Version because that’s how it was in the dream and the original English words most of us know are important here; “she wrapped him in swaddling clothes”.  Mary swaddled Jesus to comfort him and protect him.  He was her son and regardless of his lineage or divinity, he was a baby and needed his mother’s protection and love.
Swaddling is an ancient practice still used by some parents.  It generally only works with newborns and for a little while after.  The baby is wrapped snugly in blankets, arms, legs and all.  Motion is limited but the child is still and feels protected.
We forget these things about Jesus way too often.  Some of the gnostics just a few centuries after Jesus’ walk on the earth thought that his divinity would not allow him to touch this dirty, sinful earth and  he traveled all his life floating just above the earth.  In this view, he would be aloof, uncaring, and not connected to humanity at all.  Sadly, I think many of us tend to look at Jesus that way today, whether we are believers or not.
It is very easy to see Jesus in this light.  We want to distance our sinful natures from the purity of his divinity.  We want to look only at his god nature and not at his humanity.  We prefer to see the existence of the wrath he would bestow upon us because of the things we’ve done.  But, in reality, I think that is farthest from his nature towards us.  When Jesus took up the incarnation, he took it up fully, just as we have to do.  Jesus’ humanity was not separate from his divinity; both natures were fully integrated into each other.
Because Jesus had a loving and protecting mother and a caring father, he knew and lived his life inside a family.  I think that is a bit of why he loved all of us, because we are also his family.  I have no doubt that we are able to disappoint Jesus at times, but he does forgive us, his family and wants to love and protect us always.  Jesus really is our brother and God is really our Father.  We as humans and children of God would do so much better if we could lay hold of this truth and travel through life with it in our heads and our hearts.
On this, the last day of 2016, when so many are in turmoil around our world, I will hold to the truth taught by the man and God that once was swaddled in a manger by his mother.

Read Full Post »


Today, March 17th, is St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, the US, and probably Canada as well.  It seems to be a day about alcohol consumption mostly, as if we needed another day for that.  Not that I am against alcohol, I like my Guinness as much as the next person.  And, if Ireland wants to have everyone connect Saint Patrick with Ireland nationality and pride, that is alright too, and a reasonable connection.

However, Saint Patrick’s Day is to commemorate Patrick of Ireland, a bishop, a monk, and a Briton.  Yes, a Briton (but notice the spelling is different).  Patrick did more for the world than inspire a day to drink green beer (which doesn’t exist in the wild) or eat corned beef and cabbage (which I will probably do later).  As someone said much better than I but I forget his name, “Patrick’s monasteries kept the light of civilization on while it was going dark across the continent of Europe.”

Patrick was born to a Roman Briton clergyman along the west coast of what is now England, sometime during the 5th century (401 to 500 AD).  His family was Christian and Roman; his father Calpornius was a deacon, his grandfather a priest.  Yes, at this time, there was no actual Roman Catholic Church and the idea of celibate bishops and clergy hadn’t come into real existence, yet.

As a young boy, Patrick was captured by raiding Irish Celts and taken back to live as a slave in Ireland.  He grew through his teen years as a shepherd in Ireland, but escaped back to England as a young adult.  Because of his spiritual journey while a captive, he converted to Christianity and became a missionary back to Ireland after receiving a vision.  Patrick recounts a similar vision to the Apostle Paul’s Macedonian call in the Acts of the Apostles.  Paul was called in a vision or dream by a young Macedonian man to come over from Asia to witness in Macedonia.  Patrick recounts a similar vision to come to Ireland by a young Irishman calling out to him.

In Ireland, Patrick converted many people, ordained priests, and established monasteries.  Whether or not he banished snakes from Ireland is the stuff of legend, but the work of the monasteries in Ireland is heady stuff.  Irish monasteries continued gathering writings from across the known world, copying and storing them for later.  Regardless of the legendary history of Patrick, this young man helped to form a Christian society where there was none and helped maintain literacy and civilization at a time when it was becoming more difficult.

The fall of Rome brought severe problems to Europe without the stabilizing effect of a large government.  One can debate for a long time about the goodness or evil of Rome,but it did provide structure.  When that structure fell, chaos began to reign.  In this chaos, the church of Rome began to rise, yet its view of literacy and the arts and sciences was quite different from the former Rome.  At least a century after Rome left Briton, missionaries from Rome found a lively, well-established Christian society in Ireland.  There were differences in church practices in the Irish churches which led to later conflicts with Rome.

I am doing most of this from memory, with a few checks on Wikipedia.  If you really want to know more about Saint Patrick, check that site or any good book on early Christian history. So, don’t shoot me if I have made a mistake on some of Patrick’s history.

Patrick was no superhero, but he inspired many and taught many others.  Other Irish missionaries would go on to become great men of Christ’s kingdom as well.  Despite how anyone looks at the legends surrounding Patrick, no one can deny the effect he had upon the world by creating places where Christ, literacy, and faith were upheld and practiced.  Regardless of why anyone decides to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Patrick, I still choose to remember the young missionary that answered his own “Macedonian Call” to go where he was led by the Spirit and did a great work for God.

Read Full Post »


I was talking this morning on the phone with an insurance lady that remarked how her grandmother told her that when she was older that the years would just fly by.  Now in her 30’s, the lady was realizing her grandmother was telling the truth.  This year, I turned 53 and time is moving quickly enough that I may soon have to have a conversation with Mr. Einstein about relativity.

Yes, we have come to another end of year.  However, please don’t look forward to my resolutions.  I resolve not to resolve.  After several mistakes as a younger person who said he would never do such and such, just to find out that later he very much was going to do such and such, I no longer try to test God‘s patience, nor my own.  I have a rough idea of the path I should be upon, only enough to see just a few steps in front of me, and there I will go.

No, instead, I am going to reflect a little on this past year and how it has and will shape my new year.  I am learning many new things and realizing that I am not that younger person any more (and my sweetie most likely says, “Thank the Lord!”).  I still haven’t become the person I wish to be, but as the apostle says, “I am daily straining forward to earn the prize”, or something very close to that any way.

This year marked seven years of cycling and five years of running.  Though I was only able to participate in one organized ride and my half marathon this month was cancelled due to the weather, I still ran and biked (and swam) for most of the year.  The discipline I have learned from both is invaluable.  No matter what may occur in daily life, I know I can get up most mornings and either run or ride off the dross (hope I used that word correctly).

In addition, the patience and sometimes just plain fearlessness learned from running helped me to do something I never thought I would be able to do.  I play in a band now.  OK, it’s a church band and I play bass, but it’s music and it’s worship, so there.  In response to a felt need, I started working at the first of the year to put my lackluster efforts at learning guitar into playing bass instead.

I worked with the band leader at our church, who was the bass player also.  I borrowed my daughter’s bass and started to relearn my scales and try to put those to good use in keeping rhythm.  I had the mistaken belief that this was simple since I had less strings and less complexity (4 instead of 6, and country bass).  I did not know what I was thinking. There is so much more to playing bass than just personal proficiency.  Yet, I did not quit.  Learned that one from running.

About May, the band leader said I needed to get ready because in the Fall he would be out some and I should prepare for an audition.  OK.  No problem.  I just needed to get serious.  In September, I started sitting with the band during their Wednesday practice to work on live playing (they played, I struggled to keep up).  I kept my bass unplugged and sat in a pew and followed along.  After a few weeks of this, it was time to put things to the test.

The band leader asked me to plug in and play with them.  It wasn’t the greatest of beginnings, but it began.  The band leader loaned me his bass since it had better tone.  I do think my daughter’s Dean Metalman V-shaped bass still had a little to do with that decision, but I’ll just say it was tone.  The next Sunday, I played for real, on the stage, plugged in, and everything. Very scary, but I survived the audition. My band leader said I could fill in the next Sunday when he was out.

While I survived the next Sunday with the band leader out, I brought back his bass to practice ready to be just the backup bass player.  Nope, not happening.  The band leader had his banjo out and ready to work.  I was in another week, and then another, and then another.  By now it was time to start working on Christmas music.  After a meeting and answering some serious questions, I was accepted.  I became the new bass player. Now, every Sunday it is my responsibility to keep the beat and help with the rhythm so that others can worship as well.

However, I was still playing on a borrowed bass.  Affording a new one was pretty much out of the question for some time.  I wasn’t sure just how to accomplish obtaining a bass that I could call my own.  But, following God and learning to be a runner and a cyclist taught me to rely on God, and determine what was really important.

I had two good six-string electric guitars.  One was a mid-1980’s Fender Stratocaster.  After a lot of thought and more than a little prayer, I sat down one Wednesday after Thanksgiving and put both of them on Craigslist in offer of a trade for a bass.  Within an hour or so, I had an offer of a trade on what looked like a great bass.  I called the guy up and we arranged to meet at my church before starting time.  He looked over both my guitars and even though the Fender had a little cosmetic damage, he was happy to trade.  The bass he traded hadn’t seen play in a year.  I now owned a bass.

Christmas concerts are over.  Candle light services are over.  But, every Sunday comes and I have to be ready to anchor my spot and know my music.  It takes work, like running.  It takes patience, like running.  It takes struggle and endurance, like running.  It takes making mistakes, like running. It takes learning new things and being fearless, like running (and learning to embrace the lycra in cycling).

I have a great year coming in 2014.  I get to get up every morning I wish to and run.  When it warms up, I will get up on Sunday mornings and ride, ride, ride.  I will continue to learn, and practice, and train so that I will be able to “take hold of the prize” as the apostle says.  It’s all a work in progress.  Happy New Year, and Happy Running!

 

Read Full Post »


I am really not sure why we humans tend to get all sappy and nostalgic at the end of each calendar year.  It seems to be a habit even if your year doesn’t end on December 31st.  However, reflection and remembrance is a part of human life.  Making resolutions also seems to be the wont of many people at this time of year as well.  I suppose all that reflection brings about regrets and memories of failures during the year.

My year has been topsy-turvy to say the least.  I have had significant changes in my work and career.  I am still trying to get used to some of the more recent changes.  I’m not one to dwell on failures so I don’t have a list of regrets.  Regrets also tend to be such a bad business anyway.  I guess the only significant foible this year on the athletic front was Hotter-n-Hell in August.  I had to DNF it because of a broken spoke.  That in itself doesn’t quite qualify as failure.  Yet, it did give me more initiative to learn how to overcome that problem through building (or rebuilding) my own wheel.  The proof in that pudding won’t show up until later in 2012, though.  I did have some sucesses as well.  I finally finished a ride that I had not completed in three years (Tour d’Italia – June).  I also completed my first triathlon and (ahem) my first marathon.  I’ve gotten to watch my kids grow up even more and learn how to deal with the world at large, and even to see my granddaughter at her school on grandparents day.  Yeah, I think there were plenty of good things happening in 2011.

I’m not sure when I decided to quit the whole ‘resolution’ thing, but I really don’t do those anymore.  I do prefer to set some goals for the year.  Resolutions are something you ‘resolve’ to do, but culturally and psychologically, they tend to be more judgmental and success/failure oriented than they should.  I also tend to think we set ourselves up with resolutions by making them unreachable then kicking ourselves for the failure.  Goals, on the other hand, don’t have to be that way.  Goals can be modified, adjusted, and reworked.  Goals can be delayed, if necessary.  One can measure efforts toward a goal as a percentage of success and then celebrate the percentage while making plans to continue.  I like goals.

I have finally gotten back to spending more time reading (grad school can really take that out of you).  I have several books lined up to read so far and I am going to try to keep at it.  I finally have back some of the desire to read more science fiction than I had in the past.  Hopefully, I’ll keep finding new works to read.  Spending more time reading is a good goal for 2012.

On the training front, I am already working on my eating habits.  I hope I can continue being diligent and will see my weight continue to drop.  I know that my speed in running and swimming has picked up because of weighing less.  I am also going to try and keep a longer long run going.  I am planning to do a 10, 12, 15-mile rotation beginning next month.  I had started doing 5-milers on Mondays.  I am not certain those will stay, but we’ll see.  I don’t plan on another marathon this year, but in 2013…we’ll see.  Running more miles with less weight is a good goal.

After ‘Santa’ brought me a Park Tension Meter for Christmas, I have succeeded in getting my Trek back together.  The rear wheel certainly feels solid and the statistics of the tension meter says I have a strong wheel.  Time will tell on that point.  It would be really nice to be able to ride my Trek all year, and my plans are to finish the 100-miler at Hotter-n-Hell again this year.  More riding is certainly a worthy goal for 2012.

I certainly enjoyed the triathlon I did this past September.  I am making it a goal to go back to that one come September 2012.  I am also going to work on the Olympic distance triathlon this year.  There is one in Waco in July that sounds good.  A 1500 meter swim in the Brazos river in July ought to be a hoot.  Two triathlons are good goals for 2012.

This next year, I will turn 52.  I do know that one of my goals for 2012 is to cease worrying about stuff.  If you know anything at all about me, you’ll know that is very hard for me to do.  But it’s a goal, nonetheless and one I am biblically commanded to do.  And, speaking of that general area, I am going to try and keep my mind open concerning theology this year.  I know that I am certainly becoming much more liberal in both theology and politics of late.  It’s rather refreshing sometimes, but it brings me into conflict also.  However, I think I am getting old enough I can just say to the…well, you know.

A new year is a time for us to reflect on the past year, and to prepare for the next.  I’m not quite sure why we do this just because it’s January 1, but it’s not a bad idea.  I do think it’s important for us to take our new year with a grain of salt.  Even with my plans to run, race, read, and worry less, I still have to factor in that I am not in control of all things.  God has designs that I don’t always know about, and it is important to be flexible.  He is the one that controls my steps and sometimes my plans run counter to His.  It’s always good to not let our goals take over everything.  Rigidity is not a pretty sight.  But, I look forward to seeing how 2012 will work out.  Some of it will be like I planned and some of it won’t.  In the end, I think I will look forward to the New Year.  How about you?

Read Full Post »


Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving for those of us in the good ‘ol US of A.  We will celebrate our nations humble beginnings, our connection to our families, our thanks to our God, and some among us will also deign to worship at the altar of football.  So it is appropriate on this occasion to note what I am thankful for in this past year.  However, before I get to all that, it is important to note that it was somehow comical to someone to place a marathon at just such a date as to cause its runners difficulty.  Why?  Because we must go through taper at Thanksgiving. (more…)

Read Full Post »


Well, it appears that politics is once again about to take over our nation’s conscious behaviors–as if it hasn’t already.  All the pundits, pollsters, and posers are out in full force it seems.  In my own neck-o’-the-woods, we are about to finish up a mayoral election that has been just downright ugly.  I received an email this past week from the opponent of the incumbent mayor.  I told her I would vote for her just because she was different, but that I would hold her accountable if things do not change in my city. (more…)

Read Full Post »


Not really, but what a week anyway.  I have been off the ‘ether’ for a week (One can’t say off the air when it’s not radio, right).  That’s not usual for me.  I like to post about two a week; however, this one was rather exceptional.  I am surprised I kept up most of my runs and rides in this week.  It would have been very easy to skip out.  I did think about it once or twice. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »