Frantic month points to a needed center

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I am reflecting this morning on all the activity in my family and our church the last 30 days with amazement. It seems like we have had a year’s worth of life in the past few weeks. Joyful celebrations, sentimental milestones, tough decisions, endings, and promise of new beginnings.

Yet, in the midst of issues that are bigger than life to me, the problems of the nation and world continues. The Middle East is still in chaos, the world is at a vulnerable tipping point on nuclear weapons, and America can’t figure out how to keep children safe from murder at school.

I want to solve the problems of the world, but I am overwhelmed with the pressing tasks that life demands. Like never before, I need the Christian faith to center me, and give meaning to my existence.

“O Lord God, without the pardon of my sin
I cannot rest satisfied
Without the renovation of my nature by grace
I can never rest easy
Without the hope of heaven I can never be at peace
All this I have in thy Son Jesus
Blessed be His name.”
– Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers.

* Painting is Banks of the Seine, Vétheuil, 1880 by Claude Monet.

On historic day, US returns to Jerusalem

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Today is a celebration of 70 years of Israel becoming a modern nation on May 14, 1948. This has been an important global development, as this persecuted ethnic group needs a land and a national identity. The six million lost souls of the holocaust demanded that the Jews have a geographic home for protection, cultural development, and religious freedom.

In these last 70 years Israel has been a positive global force of democratic values, technological progress, religious pluralism, and frequent times of global cooperation for peace.

Today, President Trump’s administration finalized a courageous and appropriate step to establish the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, instead of Tel Aviv.  This steps further supports the nation of Israel, which has been an incredible ally to the United States in the middle of the most volatile region of the world.

I grieve the loss of Palestinians who are losing their lives in protest of today’s events.  I pray for their welfare and for peace.  Yet, I believe the support of a strong Israel will lead to the peace that the world desires and needs.

Finding God in my friend’s kids

“Everyone who loves the father also loves the child fathered by him.”

I ran across this phrase this morning in one of my commentaries as I am tightening up Sunday’s sermon. The phrase is inspired from 1 John 5:2 – “everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him.”

This phrase makes me think about how much affection I have for my friend’s children. I experience joy on Wednesday nights when children come to Awana, and teenagers show up for Frontline Student Ministries. I don’t know some of these little ones and teenagers well personally, but I have love for them because I see their parent’s traits in them. They share their parents name.

So, it is with our Christian bothers and sisters around the globe. Let’s intentionally love other Christians bothers and sister. Despite the cultural chasms, different worship styles, different interpretations of Scriptures, and the destructive competitive forces that wrongly tear us apart – we have a billion or more spiritual siblings on this planet. May God open our spiritual eyes to see that more often than we realize, “those who are with us are more than those who are with them (2 Kings 6:16).”

The Road to Character

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In the book The Road to Character, David Brooks writes about, “a serene inner character, a quiet but solid sense of right and wrong—not only to do good, but to be good.”

David Brooks is a New York Time columnist, and a commentator on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  From a secular perspective, he promotes a return to character development as a necessary human value. Pastor Dan Scott has referred to this writing as “perhaps the book of the decade.”

Written from a secular perspective, we need Brook’s clarion call to work on our character instead just accepting our weaknesses.  Towards the end of the book, Brooks who is Jewish, briefly shares about his faith in Jesus Christ in a disarming, but authentic manner. An important book for our current challenges in cultural leadership.

Resurrection People

I shared this writing from NT Wright in my sermon yesterday. A great focus point to start Holy Week.

“The ultimate future hope remains a surprise, partly because we don’t know when it will arrive and partly because at present we have only images and metaphors for it, leaving us to guess that the reality will be far greater … Our task in the present is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.” – Wright, N. T.. Surprised by Hope (p. 29-30). HarperCollins.

Painting: Easter Morning by Claude Lorraine (1600-1682)

Taking my Sabbath

I’m so grateful for a congregation that allows me to have a Sabbath each Friday, so I can reflect, recharge and recreate. Everyone in our church is so respectful of my time. Still, I want to serve people as much as I can. This quote is helpful when reflecting on the rhythm of ministry and rest.

“A public man, though he is necessarily available at many times, must learn to hide. If he is always available, he is not worth enough when he is available.” – Elton Trueblood