It’s almost impossible to talk seriously about religion without the name of Abraham coming into the discussion. Three of the world’s largest religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, trace their faith back to Abraham, the patriarch. Why is this ancient father such a powerhouse? It’s not because the guy was perfect. That’s seen in many ways, and none the least is that he lied about his wife, not only once, but twice, to save his skin.
Authentic faith was the root of this man’s success with God, which caused him to get up and trust God profoundly. His story picks up in Genesis chapter 12, where God first comes onto the scene of Abraham’s life, and the patriarch launches out in a tiny step of faith after the other. What would it look like if we were to dissect his faith for a moment? In short, it was risky. (more…)
Do you ever think about the subject? Heaven, that is. I’m not just talking about the times when we wind up sitting in solemnity at the funeral of a loved one. If this whole God thing is true, then I wonder if the high hope of Heaven is something to be paid attention to a bit more. There are divine moments when Heaven comes to mind, such as when I’m reading C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien or watching one of their great masterpieces on film. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Lord of the Rings totally set the stage for another realm beyond what we can touch today.
Heaven comes to mind when I’m scanning the dial on a road trip, and something like U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” comes on. I’m again reminded that I’m part of something so much bigger than the here and now. Sometimes, Heaven comes out of my plea for God to make things right. I see the evil and rebellion in the world, and my heart cries out for justice. Then, I know that justice will come someday. (more…)
I spent some unexpected time on the road this week, getting home just a few hours ago. The emotional journey began Sunday afternoon when I jumped on Facebook to repost the link from my sermon earlier that morning. Then I saw the news. One of my college friends had posted that her father, Max, had died in his sleep at about one o’clock in the morning. I read the news, paused, and the memories and emotions flooded. Deb and I served with Max and Marilyn Goins in Moscow, Russia, from 1994 to 1996. A year before, Max resigned from a 20-year, stable, and secure ministry to move to Moscow and establish a Bible College to train young men and women for ministry. I was there to help him, and, in the process, he mentored me.
That relationship continued when Deb and I finished our two year commitment and returned to the States for ministry work and graduate school. Max was indeed a significant father figure in my life, and a big part of the man I am today is due to him. (more…)
I was in an enormous Boy Scout troop from sixth grade through early high school and earned my Eagle Scout in December of 1984. This was a time before politics took over the BSA, and it had a much more manly culture then. Now, you should understand that the difference between our unit, Troop 80, and other Scouting programs was the sizable number of men committed to the cause. Because of their dedication, our Troop became one of the largest in our area, if not the entire state of Texas. Through hard work, patience, persistence, and strategy, the Troop incorporated and even built its own meeting hall.
Very few Boy Scout outfits achieve such stature. The other Troops in the area hated us. Of course, that just made us more proud of who we were. One of my friends, an Eagle Scout with another Troop, always talked like we were the Imperial Guard from Star Wars or something. We were big and tough and victorious at Field Day events. Indeed, it takes a strong commitment from a solid group of men to create such a program.
I believe this intersection of Scouting and my journey was a providential move God brought into my life. (more…)
If we were to take Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, and Sylvester Stallone and roll them together into one guy, we might get a glimpse into who Samson was. The boy was just enormous. In reading the history of Samson in Judges 13:1-5 it’s clear that he had a great future ahead of him. God chose him to lead His people, and Samson was uniquely gifted for the task. Few of us, if any, are gifted like Samson, but we are all created for divine purposes. I love the way King David talks about our uniqueness in Ps 139:13-16. Samson was strong, and his future was bright, but somewhere along the way, he fell. (more…)