Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nothing is Beyond You By Amy Grant

Grant sang this Rich Mullins tune on the album completed by Mullin's band after his tragic death. Mullins had been planning on recording what he called "the Jesus record' and had done all the demos shortly before his passing. The song is based, in part, on Psalm 139:7-12.

God is There for Us Everywhere


You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go by Bob Dylan

Dylan is always writing new songs and always experimenting with his old ones. This is his country version of a song from his Blood on the Tracks LP.

Yer Blues by the Beatles

I mentioned this song on October 9, what would have been John Lennon's seventy-fourth birthday. It's a great Lennon song.

39 Years Ago Today

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

My favorite.

Ocracoke Lighthouse

You can read about it here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At Currituck

Every Breaking Wave by U2

Absolutely love this song!

Ocean by Ten Shekel Shirt

A love song to God inspired by the awe we feel when we observe this universe God has made.

38 Years Ago Today

The greatest team in National League history swept the Yankees to win the World Series. It was the second consecutive World Series championship for the Big Red Machine!

I Can't Do This in My Neighborhood

God Makes Good Stuff!

Brag of the Day

Learn about the lighthouse here.

Are we willing to soil our reputations in order to help those whose reputations are bad?

That's the provocative question raised by this piece.

My Office for a Few Days

Monday, October 20, 2014

Building on Christ Isn't Easy

Christ tells us that wise people build their lives on Him.

That makes sense. Christ is, after all, God in the flesh. God alone can give life. And God designed us in His image, meaning that He clearly has a better idea about how to live optimally than we do.

He also went to a cross and rose from the dead to eliminate the power of sin over our lives. When we trust in Christ, building our lives on Him, He gives us life with God that lasts for eternity. We can also enjoy His presence with us in the midst of the pain of this imperfect world.

But as deeply as I believe these truths, they aren't easy to live out. Not. At. All.

The world says, "Follow your heart," "Trust your instincts," or "Think it through." Sometimes, I believe those messages myself. And there are places for our hearts, instincts, and brains, of course. The God we know in Christ gave these gifts to us too.

Yet, we need to be wary of our hearts, instincts, and thoughts. The reason is simple: The Bible insists that our whole beings are born captive to sin and death. Left to our own devices, sin darkens and distorts everything we think and feel and sense. "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death," Proverbs 14:2 says.

This is why Jesus tells us to build our lives on Him, to follow Him, to trust in Him. Our Creator and Savior needs to be our true north, the One Who can lead us into life with God, away from death and separation from God.

Life is hard.

And often it seems that we could make our lives a little easier by using other foundations--our own impulses, the standards of the world, the stuff of the world. Maybe our lives would be easier if we built our lives on those things. In fact, it almost certainly would. "To get along," my cynical grandfather used to advise me, "you have to go along." "Eat, drink, and be merry," the unimaginative lot who think the world must end with a ride in the hearse tell us.

But, given the witness that Jesus rose from the dead, how much good will our getting along and going along do us when we face the Lord Who called us to lives of significance when He said, "Follow Me"?

One of the reasons we crave easier lives in this world is that we know, deep in our psyches, that life lived under the shadows of sin, death, alienation, and darkness isn't what we were made for. We know that we're meant for more than simply slogging along in a world that can be "nasty, brutish, and short." We're meant for full, abundant, joyous life with God that never ends.

To get that kind of life in eternity and to gain those wonderful foretastes of it that God offers to those who believe in Christ through things like His Word, the sacraments, and the fellowship of the Church, means saying no to the things God says are harmful to our souls (you can find those in the ten commandments, among other places in the Bible) and say yes to His freeing love.

True confession: Sometimes I suspect that I know better than God. Many times. Lots of times. I struggle with God a lot. (In the Old Testament, Jacob wrestled with God. Compared to me though, Jacob is a nobody in the wrestling with God biz. I'm a WWF superstar.) The path God seems to have marked out for me isn't always my first choice. But God has called me to trust that He actually knows more than I do and that though His ways aren't my ways, His ways lead to real life. My ways, by contrast, lead to death.

In my heart of hearts, it's life with God that I want.

God, uncloud my heart. Clear away the garbage of self-will and of death and help me to build my life on You.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:10-12)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Two Additions to the Amazon Wish List

This past week, I added Fred C. Kelly's biography of the Wright Brothers to my Amazon wish list. I saw and looked through it in the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Fairborn this past week. It appears readable and accessible, two real assets for someone like me. That's because in other bios I've read of the brothers, I've gotten lost in confusion over the mathematics and science of flight, which, for example, the brothers figured out, revising previous calculations of optimal wing shapes hypothesized by Otto Lilienthal.

I just added Richard Norton Smith's new biography of Nelson Rockefeller. Smith is talking about the book right now on CSPAN. I love Smith as an historian and a writer. (His biography of George Washington is one of my favorite treatments of the first president.) And Rockefeller loomed large on the American political scene when I was growing up.

Reasons for Thanks

This morning was humbling.

The congregation I serve, Living Water Lutheran Church in Springboro, Ohio, decided to mark the thirtieth anniversary of my ordination.

I was talking with someone the other day and mentioned that the chief significance of this anniversary is that it shows how God has put up with me for thirty years. "No," this church member said, "He's put up with you a lot longer than that."

 True. Thanks, praise, honor, and glory belong alone to the God made known in Jesus Christ for His grace, love, and patience with a sinner like me. In light of this, it seemed appropriate to keep the entire day low-key.

During worship, Dan Mershon, with whom I work here, gave a thought-provoking sermon on the Gospel lesson, Matthew 22:15-22.

Folks from previous parishes were in attendance and it was so nice visiting with them during the luncheon.

Thanks to the people of Bethlehem Lutheran Church (Okolona, Ohio), Friendship Lutheran Church (Amelia, Ohio), and Saint Matthew Lutheran Church (Logan, Ohio) for sharing this journey with my family and me, for the inspiration you have given to me, for forgiving my faults, and for living your faith in Jesus.

And thanks to the people of Living Water, who made this a special day of honoring God and thanking Him for His goodness.

Ah, Kansas City!

Here. My son linked to this article on my Facebook timeline.

The year 1993, cited in the article as the point at which things went south for the Royals, due to the death of Mr. Kauffman and the ensuing "fire sale" of young talent, was when I saw my only game in Kansas City.

A colleague of mine and I were attendi
ng a church convention and a friend of his gave him two box seat tickets on the first base side. George Brett was in his last season and, as often happens for great players at the ends of the MLB careers, he was playing first base. 

I'm really happy for the Royals and for Kansas City, a town I've enjoyed whenever I've visited.

God Made Us for Community with Others...So, No Surprises Here

From the Harvard Business Review Daily Stat:

THE DAILY STAT: Harvard Business Review

October 17, 2014

Why Does Food Taste Better if Someone Else Is Having the Same Thing?

People who ate chocolate in the presence of another person thought it tasted better if the other person had eaten the same thing, rating it 6.83 on an 11-point flavor scale versus 5.57 if the other person had been merely reading a booklet. This is even though there was no conversation about the experience, says a team at Yale led by Erica J. Boothby. Imagining another person’s feelings during a shared event may increase the cognitive resources you devote to it, thus intensifying your experience, the researchers say.
SOURCE: Shared Experiences Are Amplified

Eating with others can be one of the most intimate of all human experiences.

This is why eating with someone for whom you have lunch or strong bonds of friendship is so gratifying joyous.

It also explains part of what happens in the Holy Communion for Christians.

First, Christ gives His body and blood to us and we all get to experience this amazing gift.

In Communion, Christ gives His life to us in act of supreme love and grace that imparts forgiveness of sins.

This meal also draws us to together with an amazing fellowship of Christ's Church.

In Communion, eternity invades our time-bound world, allowing repentant believers a joyous meal with believers of every time and every place, including the saints who have gone before us who now live in eternity.

At the moment Christians receive the body and blood, the eternal now of God comes to us and, at that moment, we joyously fellowship and humbly receive the blessings of God's grace in Christ as we experience an earthly foretaste of the heavenly banquet.