Thursday, April 27, 2006

Growing and Groaning

Our theme verse for our retreat on "what Am I Doing Here?" was 1 Timothy 4:7. Here it is in three different translations.

But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. (KJV)

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. (NIV)

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; (ESV)

The Greek word γuμναζε, which is translated "exercise," or "train" means “to train naked; train in a gymnasium.” This doesn't mean strip down to nothing then work out. It means get down to the skimpiest of garments so that nothing impedes your hard work. The point is that this is hard work. Paul wants us to understand that being like Christ; trying to be more like God; or closer to God; is not like falling off a log. It’s more like learning to roll the log and staying on top. Most of us understand that going to the gym implies sweat and lots of reps. So does attaining to Godliness. God’s Word says that we need to “work out, so that we can be Godly men.”
So, in order for us to know what it is we’re doing here; how to improve on that – and how to actually enjoy it; we need to take a look at something generally called the spiritual disciplines. This we will do sometime next week.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Last weekend I went out to a Christian camp with several men from our congregation and we had a “retreat.” We discussed the question, “What Am I Doing Here?” The discussion was good – and deep. In the next few days, I’d like to share some of the thoughts I brought to that weekened.

We all remember the phrase “finding ourselves.” Especially in the 1960s and ‘70s (but still today, as well), people would check out of life in general and tell people they were trying to “find themselves.” Some ran off to communes; some just got stoned and pretty much stayed that way; some turned to religion. For those who weren’t just using this concept as an excuse to drop out, there were some serious issues involved. In a sense, they were or are asking the same questions we are considering: Who am I? What is my place in this world? What am I doing here? Is this all there is?
Being away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives is a good – and Biblical – way in which to consider such things. Consider these verses from God’s Word:

· The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)
· Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
· Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." (Mark 6:31)
· But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6).

This is the whole idea of a retreat. We Go away and contemplate. In a sense, what we did was to go away and contemplate contemplation. More on that at another time!

We all have different roles (wear different hats) at different times in our lives. Where is “here” right now? Here may be, for you, at the junction of Daddy Boulevard and Husband Circle. It may be at the intersection of Son Street and Assistant Manager Alley. You may be standing at Church Leader Creek. In each case, we need to remind ourselves that whatever our roles (and remember that they change) they include being a Christian man. That’s the one that’s a constant. We have duties to our God, our families and our church (and these duties really ought to be considered in this order). What are those duties? What’s expected of me? Is that realistic?

Tomorrow (or soon, at least) an introduction of the key verse for this particular discussion.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

He is Risen!

“Holy Week” can add a lot of extra work for a pastor. Beyond the "regular" Bible studies, counseling, administrative work, and visitation, there’s the Maundy Thursday service, Good Friday commemoration, and Sunrise Service on Sunday. Then there are the regular Sunday services. That’s a lot of extra preparation. But what a glorious time! What a great subject upon which to labor! He is Risen!

We live in a complex society. We have computers and other electronic devices we cannot understand or utilize fully. We have laws (especially tax laws) that we can neither understand nor read. There are a lot more frightening medical decisions for us to have to make than there were just a few years ago.

Not too many years ago a book titled Megatrends (by John Naisbett) stated that we live in an “information society.” He meant that we have a lack of physical production – our products are invisible. These thoughts were not common at that time. This was something of a revelation. There have been two revisions to that book. The basic premise remains the same, however. Naisbett stated that what society needs is something called “high tech/high touch.”

In other words, everything is so complex that we need to be more aware of simple things: relationships, nature, human potential. This is one way, Naisbett affirms, in which we can cope with the highly technological nature of our world today. Others have simply suggested that we might stop on accasion and "smell the roses"

The Bible has another manner by which we can cope with societal change. One thing which has remained simple and has never needed to be detechnologized is the simple offer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ died and rose again from the dead in order that God the Father’s sense of justice might be satisfied and that we might find favor in His eyes. Simply put, Jesus died for me and rose again from the dead so that I may live – eternally. That’s easy enough even for me to appreciate. And I do.

Thank you, God.