Thanks Billy for not disappointing us

Billy-Graham-on-white-house-lawn-1950

I joyfully mourn the loss of Billy Graham upon his death today.  As I grew up in the Christian faith, I often heard, “Who is going to be the next Billy Graham?”   Well, there will not be another Billy Graham. That does not mean Graham is set apart as better than the rest of us.  Like Elijah, Graham “was a human being as we are (James 5:17).”

There will not be another Billy Graham because of the dramatic changes in our American culture (future blog to come).  Graham was known as America’s pastor, but America does not want to be pastored anymore.  I studied Graham’s life pretty extensively, and like me, he was not perfect.  Still, Graham knew how to handle earthly power over multiple decades in a way that honored God and lifted the reputation of Christianity.  (The above picture is of Graham and friends on White House lawn in 1950 – he was close to power at such a young age). We are all so grateful this prominent star maintained his morality.

He was committed to evangelism, and turned down lucrative offers in entertainment to stay focused on the ministry.  I particularly admire Graham’s outspoken opposition to nuclear weapons.  In 1979, he spoke against nuclear proliferation at a time when Christians in America almost blindly supported the build up of these weapons.

In Christianity, we are always looking for the next hero, and we are usually disappointed by them somewhere along the way.  Thanks Billy Graham for not disappointing us.

It is evil, not just mental illness

So much chatter on the morning news shows in response to the mass shooting in south Florida. Not much was worth hearing, but I heard one commentator state with moral clarity, “we have to admit that we have polluted a whole generation.”
If you want to do your part in preventing mass shootings in the future, then contribute positively to the moral fabric of our culture. Do not entertain yourself with violent content. Do not make heroes out of the bad guys, as so much of our entertainment glorifies the villain. Do not participate in bullying (adults do this in sophisticated ways).
Clean up your language. Demonstrate civility. Operate with integrity. Commit to your marriage and family. Contribute to the success of a church, civic club, or community orientated organization.
This is not about “mental illness.” Some of the finest people I have ever known have struggled with mental illness. The systematic execution of people is a result of unrestrained evil.
We are a selfish people. I suppose the ultimate manifestation of selfishness is mass murder for personal pleasure. So, as much as we can, let us push against the pull of selfishness. If we do not live selfishly, we can demonstrate to our young people a better way.

The Lent Season

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Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  The Epiphany season has ended, so Christians around the globe will spend the next time period preparing spiritually for Easter.  I will personally observe Lent, as I continue to order my spiritual life around the traditional church calendar.

As I prepared for Lent, I found writings from Father Thomas McKenzie with Church of the Redeemer Nashville so helpful.  I hope this sample of McKenzie’s writings is beneficial as you consider participation in Lent:

What is Lent?
“Christians have symbolically followed Jesus to the desert as a way of preparing for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The forty days leading up to Easter are a time of prayer, fasting, and self-denial … During Lent, we take on spiritual disciplines. We give something up (sweets, alcohol, television, Facebook, etc.), or we take something on (special reading, serving the poor, extra financial giving, etc.). The purpose of these disciplines is not to punish ourselves for our sins. Jesus took all the punishment for us. Rather, the disciplines are meant to empty us so that the Lord may fill us.”

When is Lent?
“Lent lasts for forty days, which are counted in an odd way. If you don’t include Sundays, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. That’s because Sunday is always a feast day, a day to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, and people don’t need to maintain their Lenten disciplines on Sundays. Lent ends at sunrise on Easter morning.”

McKenzie, Thomas. The Anglican Way: A Guidebook (Kindle Locations 1821-1829). Colony Catherine, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

John McKinzie speaking at CIL on 2.11.18

Hello CIL family!
I am so excited that my long-time mentor and pastor will be speaking this Sunday at CIL.   John McKinzie is the senior pastor of Hope Fellowship in Frisco, Texas – one of the fastest growing churches in America (read his full bio below).  He is one of my closest friends in the world, and a great guy.  He will be speaking at 9am and 10:45am on Sunday, February 11th.
You will love John’s pastoral heart as he shares God’s word with us.  Come expecting God do great things in our services.
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John McKinzie Bio
John McKinzie has been in full-time pastoral ministry for more than 31 years. He is the Lead Pastor of Hope Fellowship located in Frisco, Texas. In the 18 years of its existence, the church has consistently grown-now ministering to over 6000 people each week across three campuses.
While serving as a youth pastor at a church in Nashville, God began to create a desire in his heart to plant a new church in Frisco, Texas. Hope Fellowship was founded in January 2000. There were 52 people in attendance at their first meeting which took place at Hillcrest Day School.
God has consistently grown the church, and because of John’s visionary leadership, the people of Hope Fellowship have become a group of believers striving to impact their local community and the world with the love of Jesus. The phrase that’s heard the most around Hope is “If lost people matter to God, then they should matter to us!”

Less Negativity, More Leaning

Since the kids have faded out of civic league sports, Saturday mornings have become a time of reflection most weeks. There is a tendancy for negative emotions to wash over me during this time slot, but I redirected my thoughts to positive, Christ-centered reading, meditation and prayers.
 
I usually do not feel like focusing on spiritual things, but once I take the first step I am always glad. So I write this to encourage you to lean into spirituality, manifested in Jesus, the son of God. He is the fresh drink to our parched souls.

Will You Be Baptized in February?

If you missed Sunday, I preached a message on water baptism that lifted the value of this sacrament.  If you did not hear it, take a listen at www.indianlake.sermon.net.

In the sermon and 242 Small Groups, we discussed the opportunity for those who were baptize as a child to be baptized as an adult.  While it may not be a necessity for those baptized as child to experience baptism again, it is still a good step to consider.  While a child’s baptism is an important part of our journey, there may be greater significance for you when you take this step as an adult.  Our next scheduled water baptism is on Sunday, February 25th.

If you want to participate in water baptism on that day, fill out this online form.

If you want to talk about it some more, one of our pastors would love to have that conversation with you.  Just let me know!This Sunday, I will be preaching a message called Resting in His Call from Psalm 62:5-12.  It has been a good season of prayer, so I believe God has a fresh word for you.  Pray with me that He will be glorified through this message, and all the other aspects of worship in which we will participate. Invite someone you know to CIL this Sunday.  Your invitation could lead to a changed life!