November 21, 2013
But that needs a little elaboration. Because sometimes less is less.
Less is more
What do I mean by less is more? I mean, less blogging means, for me, more productive writing. I have come to realize that while I do need to be writing, that doesn't mean I need to be blogging. Not every thought that crosses my mind is publish-worthy. I have a hard time with that. I am part of the Selfie Generation, and we think that what we think is the most important thing ever thunk. But it isn't. Most of what I've written on here needs drastically re-written, re-worked, and generally edited (with a heavy hand!).
That's not to say that I won't ever blog. Should an idea that I feel is blog worthy come along, you can of course expect me to write about it on here, no different that I have before. But I have realized that I need not feel guilty about that being every month or two. Not only am I not currently a blogger, I have never desired to be a blogger. I want to write. They aren't the same. If I am wrapped up in writing for my blog 2, 3, 4 times a week, it robs from other, more important writing tasks. Books don't get written when I'm blogging. Articles don't get written when I'm blogging. Letters go unwritten, journals go untouched. I am thankful for blogs, both those of excellent bloggers, and those for guys like me who have an occasional thought to share. But I can't worship it. Focus is needed. And in my case, that focus cannot, and should not, be on a blog.
Less is less
One of the rules of blogging, if you want to be read that is, is that you need to write short pieces. Concise, well organized, to the point. While this sort of writing is a helpful exercise for those with diarrhea of the mouth (or fingers, as the case may be); it also is in-conducive to fully developing thoughts, and as such is...well...not quite "my style."
All of this to say-it's back to the normal occasional post on here, I'm just through feeling guilty about that. Here's to less blogging, and more writing!
November 01, 2013
October 30, 2013
That would be weird on it's own. But then on my way to St. Maries I saw this same man in the red shirt, lying in the middle of Highway 5 just east of Rocky Point. I mean literally in the middle; I had to swerve to miss him. Fool. Just what that sort deserves. Think if I had swerved too hard and been in a wreck! I, a respected lawyer and state senator, put in peril by a drunk. Probably purchased his booze on unemployment checks.
So here I was driving down Highway 5 between St. Maries and Plummer. I was running a little behind to get here in time, but I figured if they had the snow cleared off of Highway 95 I could make up time between Worley and Coeur d'Alene. Then I come around a corner, and there is this guy laying in the middle of the road! I was able to miss him, but it gave me a scare. Did I stop to help him? What? And make myself even later for the pastor's conference? What would I have done, brought him here? Tell me that wasn't a serious question.
A few weeks back I had one of those interesting life moments. I was up in Idaho for the last part of their deer season. I was hoping the get to my spot before ten and set up camp, but with it snowing the night before I was running behind. Then I come around a corner in the highway and there is a guy laying there in the road. I found the closest pull out and ran back to check on him. He was still alive, but wasn't in good shape. I couldn't tell if he had been hit and then laid there for hours, or if he had laid there for hours and eventually been hit. It didn't really matter. Cell service down there wasn't good enough to get a call out, so I pulled him into my truck and took him to the hospital in St. Maries. I stayed with him all day. They told me they'd probably release him the next day, so I went down to the motel and reserved a room for him for the next week, and went over to the grocery store and bought him some food, then left a little cash on the table in case he needed anything else. When I stopped back by a few days later, he was gone. Left a note at the front desk that just said, "Thanks neighbor."
Many of us are familiar with Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan. I tried here to retell it in a modern light (obviously all the people in my story are fictitious). My apologies if the geographical refrences are obscure to you, a quick trip to Google maps can fix that.
If you aren't familiar with this parable, you can read it here. The background is this. A lawyer comes and asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies with a question, "what does the law say?" The man replies, "love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus tells him that's a good answer - and then this guy knows he's in trouble, because he doesn't love his neighbor as himself. So he begins to squirm. "Who is my neighbor?" the man asks. Jesus, again not giving him an easy answer, tells this story. After he concludes, he asks the question, "which one of these guys was a neighbor?" The lawyer, of course, realizes that the Samaritan (or in our case, the Californian) is the neighbor. The one who shows mercy is the neighbor. Jesus tells him to go and do likewise.
This is interesting on multiple levels, but here is what screams at me. The man wants to know who his neighbor is so that he can get by loving as few people as possible. Jesus tells a story about what a neighbor does and tells him to do that. Jesus' answer to, "who is my neighbor?" is, "be a neighbor."
October 28, 2013
The apostle Peter says there that Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the church is built (vs. 6,7). This means that Jesus is where we trace the church to, not Peter. This is an important fact because the entire Roman Catholic tradition of the papacy finds its basis in the idea that Peter was the rock upon which the church was built, and thus there is a supposed succession of a head honcho churchman.
But Peter flatly contradicts this type of thinking by making it exceedingly clear that it is Jesus upon whom the church is built. All believers are "living stones" used for the building of God's church. The apostles, being the first believers, form a proverbial base layer or foundation for this church (I believe this is what Jesus meant in Matthew 16:18). They serve an invaluable role, even now as we read the book of Acts and early church history, we may look to their example. We read the New Testament and from the apostles receive the written words that describe the living Word. We see Jesus through them, and learn how to live in light of who he is by the instructions they left in the form of letters like 1 Peter. But there is no magical line of Peter. Jesus is the cornerstone, and all the church form his holy people.
How do we know this? Peter refers to Christians in general as a "royal priesthood." This means that we don't need another human priest for confess our sins to, intercede with God for us, or administer sacraments. We are the people of God and God's Son, Jesus, serves as our merciful and sympathetic high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).
God does establish structure for his church, including the governorship of elders over local congregations (Peter addresses them specifically in chapter 5). But this must not be mistaken as letting Christians off the hook on holiness (1:15) or of creating a special class of Christians. We all are part of the people who have now obtained mercy. A mercy dispersed by God, not by a man-made priesthood.
October 27, 2013
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
As an aside before we begin. Let's do a little Bible study 101. What we read here from Luke is one of Jesus' many parables. Now, when we look at parables, we need to be careful not to spiritualize every little detail. That isn't what parables are for. Parables are designed to communicate one main point, one big idea. The details of parables generally exist to help make the story more true to life and to engage the listener/reader.
That said, I want to look at the main idea of this parable. Jesus says that if a woman has ten coins, or perhaps we would say ten $50 bills, and loses one, she will most assuredly take any measure necessary to recover that lost money. She'll light a lamp, sweep the house, and when she finds it, she will rejoice and call up all her friends so that they may rejoice with her. So it is in heaven when one sinner repents.
Here's the interesting part...the part that I have missed most of my life. It's not the angels rejoicing. Jesus said there is rejoicing before the angels of God. Which means it is not the angels rejoicing. It is God himself who rejoices over the repentance of sinners. The turning of a sinful heart to Christ causes God himself to visibly express his joy. How often do I share that joy?
October 24, 2013
twas greatness that he hoped to find.
But as life’s pressures ‘round him swirled,
those dreams crumbled in his mind.
Dejected by the hand life dealt,
our friend’s life began to waver;
because great failure he had felt,
he trusted drugs to be his savior.
“Just numb it all,” he told himself,
as the needle slipped inside his vein.
He felt he fought the world itself;
that all of life was naught but pain.
He lost both family and health
while success was chief endeavor;
but loss of job meant loss of wealth,
he was left without all earthly treasure.
He passed out one night beside the road,
not to awake again on earth.
Could one have his end foretold?
What would that warning have been worth?
The tragic end of this man’s life
should cause each one to pause.
What do I value in this life?
What has been my greatest cause?
Will I come to the end and find
that all I've lived for is but naught?
To what has been my heart inclined?
What sort of treasure have I sought?
You see when all is said and done,
our temporal things won’t matter.
But when our treasure is the Son,
we have a wealth that will not shatter.
I wrote the original version of this for the Coeur d' Alene Press, where it was published on December 21, 2012. I also posted it previously on the blog. I changed some of the wording and punctuation here, hopefully making it more readable.