Thursday, August 11, 2022
Thursday, August 4, 2022
I have done everything in my power to avoid this one, but I just can't anymore. I like Demi Lovato. I think she is a good singer, and I liked her as a judge on X-factor. But she has been front and center this week because of her decision to use new pronouns which are now "they" and "she". Last year, she identified as non-binary, which I assumes means that she can be both male and female, not one or the other. But now, she is feminine, so she likes "she", but I have no idea how she gets to "they". "They" is plural, and she is one person. That is followed by her statement that her sexuality is fluid. I recently heard that at an annual conference for a Fortune 500 company, attendees were required to list their pronouns on their name badge. I wish I could change the conversation from "this is what I want you to call me" to "this is how I am feeling today". I feel more masculine when I am barefooting behind a ski boat, and I feel more feminine when I bust out crying when I hear a beautiful piece of music. I don't need to dictate how you address me each time I feel different. Besides, it is all too confusing. Just call me Tom. Which sex organs I have, and which sex I am attracted to doesn't need to be broadcast to anyone, but I am happy to tell a friend if they want to know. I get that I may be adding fuel to the fire by posting this, but I am admittedly dazed and confused.
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Thursday, July 14, 2022
Thursday, July 7, 2022
We were all sickened by the massacre in Highland Park, IL at a July 4th parade killing 7 people. One two year old toddler arrived at the parade with two parents and left with none. They were both killed. I watched this interview of a mom who was also at the parade with her husband and 2 year old son. They escaped physically unharmed, but mentally changed for life. Her plea is impassioned but controlled, calling for us all to do something. I have struggled with what to do. I have friends that are gun advocates, but it is more than obvious that assault weapons in the wrong hands lead to innocent people being killed senselessly. As the mom in the video was laying her 2 year old down for his nap on the afternoon of the 4th, he looked up at her and said "no more running". I can't imagine how I would feel if this were one of my grandchildren.
Thursday, June 30, 2022
Thursday, June 16, 2022
Thursday, June 9, 2022
Thursday, June 2, 2022
Saturday, May 28, 2022
For those of us that have trouble memorizing scripture, we can take comfort in finding the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus Wept". Even I can remember that one. There is certainly much of the Bible that deals with the solemn, serious nature of Jesus, punctuated by his death on the cross. But it raises the question, did Jesus laugh? I don't believe there are any direct references to Jesus laughing in the Bible, but there were definitely times when Jesus experienced joy. He found joy in performing miracles, including bringing people from death to life. And he also found great joy in bringing people to know God through himself. While it is hard to know how cultural norms might influence humor over the centuries, some might say that "having a plank in your eye" or "a camel walking through the eye of a needle" are humorous in some contexts. If the rest of us experience joy, then Jesus, being fully God and fully human, surely experienced joy, and also probably laughed. I believe most of the people who know me well would put me more on the serious side of the serious-fun scale, and that is something I would like to change. Knowing God should bring me immense joy and that great joy should frequently bring great laughter. To get us started, how about having some fun poking fun at ourselves? I love this one.
Thursday, May 19, 2022
At a young age, John watched his dad carefully as he practiced medicine in a small town in Texas. John frequently heard stories of how his dad had taken special care with a patient causing the patient to reach out to him personally after the treatment to thank him for his care. John went to school to study sports medicine and joined a practice in California. He was married and raised two children. He modeled his parenting and his work after his father. On Sunday he was attending a reception at church for one of the pastors that had just returned from a mission trip. In the midst of the celebration, a lone gunman entered the reception hall with the intent of killing as many people as he could. John rushed the gunman and tackled him, allowing other parishioners to restrain the shooter until authorities arrived. John was shot multiple times and died shortly thereafter. Praise God for a man that was willing to sacrifice himself for the good of others. Click here to see a short professional video introducing John Cheng.
Thursday, May 12, 2022
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Thursday, April 28, 2022
I attended the celebration of life service for Tom Larrison on Saturday. Tom and his wife Ann go to our church, and they have participated in our small group from church. Tom was way too young to die, but he had been struggling with multiple chronic issues for some time. At the service, four of Tom's high school buddies from Florida spoke. It was fun to hear their stories from 40 years ago, but it was amazing to see how those relationships had been nurtured over four decades. Two of Tom's recent business partners also spoke. Their perspective was shorter and more current, but the common theme from all of the speakers was that Tom always wanted to know how they were doing. Tom never wanted to talk about himself. I was convicted that I want to be more like Tom, my brother in Christ. How are you doing today?
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Thursday, March 31, 2022
Thursday, March 24, 2022
I learned a new word this week: neoteny. Neoteny is the retention of juvenile features in the adult animal. While the word is typically usually used to describe characteristics of non-human animals, it applies to us as well. Gaining maturity is typically viewed as a positive, natural part of getting older, and in a lot of ways, it is. But then there is that verse in the Bible: "Unless we change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Last night, our group talked about how to do that. Here are some of our ideas: Play more. Laugh more. Learn more. Trust more. Love more. I think most of us could use a little more neoteny in our lives, and I know God will smile down on us if we do.
Thursday, March 17, 2022
At the age of 16, Pat was abducted from his family and taken to another country where he was held captive and enslaved. After six years, he escaped, traveling 200 miles by foot to a port city where he made passage back to his home country by boat. Pat had been introduced to Christianity early in his life and while he was enslaved, he used the time to deepen his relationship with Jesus. After returning home, he continued his religious studies and felt a call back to the country where he had been a slave to tell others about Jesus. He became widely known as the most effective evangelist of his time in that country. Upon his death, a celebration of his accomplishments was initiated which ended up being an annual event celebrated around the world. Occurring during the Christian observance of Lent, the day became known as a day when any abstentions from food or drink were paused so that full celebrations could take place. That day has been known ever since as St. Patrick's Day. I hope you celebrate well!
Thursday, March 10, 2022
6 year old, Pavel Averbukh, was fortunate to escape the port city of Odessa, Ukraine before 5000 civilians, including most of his family and friends, were slaughtered by the ruthless militia invading from the north. The year was 1941, and the invading soldiers were German, not Russian. Pavel is now 86 and lives in the Brooklyn neighborhood known as Little Odessa. Little Odessa has the highest concentration of Russian immigrants in the western hemisphere. I have been reading a WW II book entitled, "A Higher Call", which was recommended to me by a close friend. The book has made it painfully obvious how little I know, or how much I have forgotten, about World War II. I found a docu-series on Netflix that helped me quickly fill in some of the empty spaces. It has been fascinating (and terrifying) to see the similarities between what was happening in the 1940's and what is happening now in the exact same area of the world. I know that all of us are being inconvenienced right now by the increased fuel prices resulting from what is happening overseas. I don't like it either. But I think it would do us all some good to think about those who have been forced from their homes into shelters and the streets, separated from family, and even killed over the past several weeks. Their inconvenience seems somewhat higher.
Thursday, March 3, 2022
Chapter 5 in "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" is about guaranteed uncertainty. Some people think faith in God is about knowing exactly what He is going to do. Last night our group talked about things that we never expected to happen which turned into some of the most vivid memories from our lifetime. We talked about sad surprises like the death of a loved one or the sudden termination from a job. And then there are happy surprises like the conception of a child when the doctors said it wouldn't be possible. The thing that we should have faith in is not faith that we know exactly what God is going to do, but having faith in the fact that His plan is perfect. We may not understand that perfect plan, but God's desire is that we seek to know Him more. As we do that, His plan will be revealed to us, but not completely. He is way too big. But if we trust in Him, and in his Son, we will meet Him one day, and the full plan that He has for us will be revealed. That is His promise. I am certain of that.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Thursday, February 10, 2022
I sometimes feel overwhelmed when I am facing a situation where it seems the odds of succeeding are impossible. I think, "There is no way that this can work out even if everything proceeds perfectly." My perspective is largely shaped by my view of the size of my God. In other words, "My God is not great enough to get me through this." In my fleeting moments of strength, I remind myself that God is not only almighty, but He is also my Father. He watches me always. He watches my struggles. He watches my sins. He watches my triumphs. He watches me always. He not only watches, but He corrects me when I am wrong, and He cheers me on when I am succeeding. He yearns for me to call out to Him for help so that he can demonstrate His love for me. He wants me to pray God-sized prayers, so that when they are answered, I and anyone else who is watching will know that there is no way that could have been accomplished without God in the middle of it. I pray for the courage to pray those prayers more.
Thursday, February 3, 2022
Last night, we had our first ConnectGroup meeting at our house. We are reading "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day." The book is inspired by an Old Testament warrior named Benaiah. Benaiah stared down a lion, chased him into a pit, and killed him. In the first chapter, Batterson spent some time talking about two different types of sin - sins of commission and sins of omission. The church has long focused on sins of commission - the bad things we do that we need to stop doing. The church doesn't talk that much about sins of omission. These are the opportunities that God presents to us that we think we don't have the time or ability to pursue - opportunities missed. In the next 7 chapters, Batterson is going to talk about 7 of the main obstacles to taking those opportunities and running with them. Let me know if you would like to join in the discussion.
Thursday, January 27, 2022
Our Winter/Spring semester of our church ConnectGroup is starting up next week. We will be reading and discussing "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson. Mark is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC and is a best-selling author of 12 books. When Mark was 19, he heard a sermon about Benaiah from the Old Testament who chased down a lion and killed it. He decided at that point, that if he ever wrote a book, it would be about that passage. The first chapter introduces the idea that some of our greatest opportunities for growth can come from facing fear in the face. I look forward to reading and discussing his ideas on this with our group. Let me know if you would like to read along with us.
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Some of you may already know that my wife and I are building a new home on Lake Hartwell. We have been planning for a while and finally got started last month. Things are proceeding slowly due to "the weather" and "the COVID", but some progress is being made. We are thankful that we don't have any real deadline to move, so we are working hard to enjoy the process. I came across this article written by a woman who is also building a home, and her experience has been positive so far. She states that the workers are delightful and seem to take pride in their work and actually enjoy their work. It made her start thinking about how our current society dictates that young adults need to have a college education (or 2 or 3) to make a difference in our world. It seems that we have boxed out the possibilities of people being successful building, farming or fixing toilets. Jesus was a carpenter and his disciples were fishermen. I think her ideas are interesting and true. I would love to know what you think.
Thursday, January 13, 2022
College football is a crazy thing. When I was enrolled in a SEC university in 1980, I decided to participate in the marching band. That was the only year I marched. I would have never imagined that at the end of that season, UGA would be celebrating its first National Championship in 38 years. It would have been even more surprising if you would have told me it would be 41 more years until UGA would win their next title. During those 41 years, I married my wife who attended UGA, sent my two kids to UGA, watched my daughter-in-law work the sidelines at UGA as an athletic trainer and fed hundreds of hungry students at our pregame tailgates. College football is big business. But it has also served as a rallying point for our family and friends to gather and cheer. This year, Caroline and I joined our kids and one of their spouses (sorry Emily) in Indianapolis for the biggest game we have had in a while. Cheers to UGA. Cheers to family. I hope your family has something fun to cheer for.
Thursday, January 6, 2022
I have mixed emotions today as I look forward to all the good that 2022 has in store for us and am also reminded of the 2021 insurrection that occurred at our nation's capital one year ago today. I thank God for the freedoms that we have living in this country, but feel sick that some of our own chose to exercise their freedoms by attacking innocent people that were doing their best to protect those very freedoms. My prayer today is for the families of the people that were injured or killed and that our legal system would do everything in its power to bring justice to the offenders. I also pray that we are protected from further attacks from those inside our borders and outside of our borders. This year I want to have open ears and an open heart to those that think differently than I do.