Things Occurring to Me

1. When I went to see Amazing Grace, I could tell it was a church crowd there. They were generally about my age. And they felt they could talk whenever they wanted to. Must be from churches that are congregational in government.

2. My Ben was stuck on a plane for six hours, and then it never took off. This is outrageous. He got sick for the next several days.

3. The dog didn’t die while Sharon was in Norfolk. Good for me. You don’t know how good this was for me.

4. I found out that buffalo wings don’t make a very good breakfast.

5. Getting dehydrated is one of the easiest things to do without knowing it. Check out what happens when your body is dehydrated, and you will never be far from a water bottle.

6. Going to college, finding out it isn’t your thing, and dropping out with $30,000 to $40,000 of debt is something that happens too much.

7. I really understand people dropping out of the institutional church and meeting in house churches. It’s hard for me to be critical. Sometimes I think they are braver than the rest of us. (And sometimes I think they just don’t want anybody telling them what to do).

8. Does anybody really know what the Day of Pentecost looked like? (And why do I keep using the word “really”?)

9. The one thing I try to communicate to college students in my classes is that if you make me work too hard to try to understand what you are saying through bad grammar, incomplete sentences, and punctuation that demonstrates a manic-depressive disorder, I will quit trying. If I quit trying, that’s not good for a student. What’s worse, their employer might quit trying.

10. Each Spring I think I will get up to date on all the baseball rosters. I don’t. I wonder about people who do.

Amazing Grace – Movie Review

Simply put – it’s a good movie if you come with questions and desire.

The movie starts slow and stays low for a period of time. And perhaps there is not enough tension in the main character to keep the viewer fully engaged. He is somewhat stereotypically religious despite his quirks and oddities. But there is enough here for the serious Christ-follower to fill in the blanks and create a story all by himself/herself.

The bottom line reality is this: Jesus and the impulse he set loose in the world is THE great fact of history, to paraphrase Kenneth Latourette, Yale church historian. Wherever the Spirit of Jesus goes the world gets changed, one way or another. No sincere Christ-follower can escape feeling the suffering of the word. Jesus tenderizes the heart, and there comes back again and again to the Christian heart the words of Jesus, “For God so loved the world…” The response of the Apostle Paul captures this: “When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones.” (2Co 11:29)

This is what makes Amazing Grace captivating. The Christ-follower gets a look at what happens when a heart is compelled by the love of Christ. Self-reflection is what keeps me riveted to the movie. Is this me? Would I bear that price? Would I persevere that long? Would I spend and be spent?

I am not acquainted with the politics of Wilberforce and how he played the game. The movie suggests that Wilberforce’s cause did not prosper until he learned to play that game. I wonder. The message reminded me of the aphorism of Jesus about being a wise as serpents and gentle as doves. The movie makes the point is that we cannot simply be moral – we must be engaged for real change. Certainly in our day we think of James Dobson and Chuck Colson.

Sometimes I wonder about the conservatism of evangelicalism. Woodrow Wilson said that a conservative is someone who sits and thinks, but mostly sits. That would describe a lot of our churches. We will send money for missions all over the world – medical missions, literacy missions, educational missions, etc., but we won’t do the same thing in our cities and towns. This is a generalization, to be sure, but a generalization that we all know is true enough to make us uneasy.

See the movie. Ask yourself what part of the world’s suffering touches your heart. And then launch. Don’t just be good. Do some good.

When Christians move off the front lines

The Washington Post is doing  a series of how the wounded from the war in Irag and Afghanistan are being treated at the Walter Reed Hospital. I don’t get it. Once people given their best(and had their lives changed forever), we give our least. Contact your congressional delegation and express your outrage.

But it also makes me think of the church. Do we treat people as useful and then as useless? There are many who have given their best for so long and tried so hard. What do they get from us, particularly if they have been injured in some way in the spiritual war? Once they stop contributing, what do we do? There are a lot of people who have taken what the church does very seriously but then have been injured. Front line ministry brings wounds, you know. Do we chalk it up to moral deficiency, character failure, backslidding and then wash our hands? Or do we honor, cherish and help? I’m not sure I know how to do that. It’s easy to feel betrayed, let down, especially when their injury takes the form of criticism of the church. But a closer look tells us something more personal may be going on, and we need to take the time to care.

When people move off the front lines, they might need more than criticism!!!