The bottom line is that when Deb and I got married, she was a virgin and I was not. One of the modern myths about sex is that it’s just physical and no big deal. I don’t believe this and that is certainly not my journey. The emotions have been all over the place in my adult life. At one point I can experience the true forgiveness and redemption of Jesus with an understanding of grace that people with less checkered lives just can’t understand. On the other hand, there are still residual times when I ache for my choices of sexual activity before marriage. I don’t blame the girl. I know it was my decision and it pains me. If there was anything that I could take back, it would be those pre-marital sexual actions that I took during the dark ages on my high school years and young adult life. But I can’t.
I’m not a country western fan. In fact, I like to tell people that God created music and then Satan made an attempt at it which resulted in country-western. Really, there are so many different genres of music that I enjoy from classical to Christian hard rock. Head banger music is what our church admin assistant calls it. I’ve picked up a love for Irish, Scottish, and English folks music of late and sometimes old traditional Russian music will find its way to my Pandora stations. A seasoning amount of classic rock is threaded through my week as well. But I just can’t make the switch to country-western. Ok, maybe some John Denver once in a while. But that’s probably a bit more folk than western. No, country music and I just don’t do business with each other.
My wife however grew up on the country twang. Many of those songs bring fond memories to her and set her at ease. I don’t naturally like country, but she does. Thus the question of what do we listen to over the car radio.
One of the big items on my summer reading list was Rick Stedman’s new book, “31 Surprising Reasons to Believe in God.” I first met Rick while planting a church from scratch back in Nor. Cal from 2004 to 2009 and found him to be a humble and brilliant man of faith who truly loves people. God worked through Rick to plant one of the greatest churches in the Sacramento area which has blessed countless people across the globe. In 31 Reasons, Dr. Stedman systematically moves through various issues such as beauty, yearning for a better world, science, physics, philosophy, and a hopeful eternity which when looked at in detail all give us glimpses into the Divine.
It had been a long day as Deb and I were dropping off our girls for youth group. We try to grab date nights whenever we can. When you’ve been married for just over 26 years even fast food has a romantic ring to it. So with a coupon that Deb was graced with from one of her students, we headed to Chick Fil A with the anticipation of not having to clean a kitchen and enjoy some time without teen drama. The problem was that the line was taking forever and the day was just getting longer.
I wanted to bolt, but Deb was much more patient. To encourage me she suggested a bet; which is something she hardly ever does. In her confidence, she offered a bet that if we were not through the line in 10 minutes she’d wear a corset that night.
What? A preacher talking about the intimate details in marriage? Well why not? Actually the Bible does speak about the subject in quite wonderful ways. The unfortunate deal is that our present Western culture has allowed Hollywood to highjack the subject. Yes, God really did create sex and preachers really do engage in it. So today and later in a second installment I’ll share 5 quick points on the subject that just might help us restore a truly Kingdom mind set about sex.
I was expecting a car stereo for Christmas. A couple of tires is what I got. I think I was 17 and I had my first car. A gray 79 Pontiac Lemans. The silver bullet is what one of the youth leaders called it. I loved it. But it had a generic AM/FM radio and I needed more. So I thought. The bottom line is that while I didn’t want the tires, I needed them. A stereo cassette player is what I wanted; new tires are what I needed.
That was one of the first lessons God gave me in clarifying the difference between wants and needs. The fact is that God really hasn’t always given me what I wanted. But He has always given me what I needed and when I needed it.
Is it worth it? The time? The money? The sacrifices? Those were just a few of the questions running through my head and heart as I stood over the washing machine a number of years ago moving a load into the dryer. It was not a good season in many ways. I was serving full-time in a local church with very little help. We had two young and overly energetic boys. My wife was expecting baby number three in about two months. The real struggle was in her experiencing premature labor and thus confined to mostly bed rest. She was out of commission and I was wondering what in the world I was doing taking grad-school classes. The questions were logistical and about motive. Am I doing this for the right reasons? Do I really need to pursue an MA? Can’t I just as well serve my present job and calling fine with what I have? Then as I was reaching down to pull out the last handful of clean clothing I sensed the Holy Spirit confirming that I needed to stay in the fight.
Like many Americans I’ve been frustrated by the attitudes and actions of my fellow citizens since Donald Trump was elected and took office. But yet my somberness is not the same as the political angst being flooded throughout the media waves and coffee houses across the land. My frustration has to do with the body of Christ.
I love these videos of Matt Harding dancing around the globe. The videos from 2008 and 2012 are probably my favorites. Below is the clip from 2016 and while I’m not stoked on the tune, I’m still enthralled by the beautiful folks from all over the world. Each video is a reminder of how big God’s creation is and how huge HIS love is for that creation. It is also a clear picture of the ultimate Kingdom of Heaven which is not about geography but people in whose hearts God rules. They are an ever present reminder of Revelation 7 that speaks of not only the present, but the future fulfilled Kingdom where a “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, was standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Also, they are an additional reminder of one of the most famous verse in the Bible; John 3:16 in which Jesus proclaims that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That statement by Christ is such a great proclamation of God’s grace and also the diversity of HIS love. All of mankind is included in the offer to respond this amazing grace. And that, along with Matt’s videos, just makes me smile.
What about God’s creation makes you smile?
One of the things that I’ve been looking forward to as we kick off 2017 is reading through the Bible again devotionally. I don’t always get the whole book read in a year as some passages are missed because of interruptions in life. But I’ve found that a daily practice of systematically working through the Bible has been just as important spiritually as eating a healthy diet is physically. The objective is one of simply coming before the life changing Word of God on a regular basis and allowing HIM to change us.
In my occupation it’s easy to check out and simply look at the Bible as a text book. By this I mean merely studying the content for sermon preparation, teaching, and the like. Actually, that’s probably not too far off for many of us. In other words, it’s easy to take it for granted. Somehow we know there’s something different to this book and we have at least one laying around our house even if it’s just the white covered gift Bible we got from our grandmother at High School graduation; but we ignore it. Thus many times it just sits next to the Webster’s Dictionary until we hit the wall emotionally and seeks an answer from the Divine.
A lot of folks question the validity of scripture and speculate whether it can be trusted or not. Many people suggest that “because the Bible was written so long ago and was translated so many times” that it just can’t be reliable for us today. If that is true, then the Bible rightly should be questioned.
For the longest time I thought the term ADHD was reserved for parents who just didn’t know how to raise their kids. Then God gave me the poster child for the condition in our first born. My son, John, is a genius. He also has more energy than a platoon of Marines about to storm into enemy territory. Forget trying to fit John into any kind of mold of properness and organization. Calmness for him means that only two volcanoes are exploding simultaneously instead of twelve. But the real awakening came when I realized that if experts were classifying Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder when I was a kid back in the 70s, it would have been me they were talking about.