Month: September 2015

Abortion and the Eighth Grader

So I got to talk to twenty eighth graders about abortion today.

I’m on the board for a pregnancy counseling center. We do no medical procedures, but we help out in a lot of practical ways. We counsel, provide post-abortion counseling, provide food, diapers, clothes… in short, we support the living of the mom and baby.

A pastor from a neighboring town asked me if I’d be willing to come in and talk about beginning-of-life issues to his confirmation class. I agreed and asked for some specific information, specifically: How much knowledge could I assume, and how much I could really talk to them. I mean, this is an incredibly painful issue, and some parents might scream that their precious innocent widdle baby was getting a dose of reality.

“They’re pretty sheltered. Show them what real life is like.”

All right then! (more…)

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Beyond the Horizon

The Sea

Too many people. I needed to get away. I drove along the lakefront, and the waters called to me. I found a place to park and paced along a biketrail that paralleled the shore until I found a secluded spot on the beach. No one around. Alone. Empty.

I planted myself on a stone where spray of the surf just reached me. The sun sparkled on the breakers. The blue of the Lake shone in its many colors. I heard the waves pound sand and stone; the waters never gave up their siege of the shore, but God himself has commanded that they remain in their borders. Not even the waters may disobey him.

The horizon lurked. Endless waters. Infinite shores. What lay on the other side of the Lake? What adventures awaited? What could I encounter on the waves?

Don’t you long for that?

To see the beauty that no other has ever beheld? To set your foot where no foot has ever walked? To discover and explore and set out and see what awaits those who dare? Doesn’t the very thought take your breath away?

There’s a scene in Dreamwork’s Sinbad where the title character and Marina talk about whether they long to be on the safety of the shore or the adventure of the seas. Sinbad and Marina both choose the seas. Today, I longed for that same choice.

But I am bound to the shore. I am bound here. I have duties. Responsibilities. Shackles that will not let me leave.

But that is a trick. That is a temptation to look at the good God has given me and say it traps me. No, this does not trap me. This is no shore I stand on when I serve my congregation. This is the sea.

This… this is the adventure.

Don’t you see?

I face the greatest adventure that any could possibly face. I am a son of the King, besieged by many evils. I am a son of the King, and my Prince has gone before me. I am a son of the King, and I have been set among many prisoners. “Set them free!” the King commands, and oh, I long to obey!

The Shore

Christian, you have been summoned by the King, but he does not command you, “Be nice!” Your King does not look over his vast kingdom and call forth a tournament to verify who is worthy to represent the King.

No. The Prince marched into the fortress of the Enemy and shattered the iron bars holding prisoners of war. The Prince took us, who reveled in serving the Enemy, and he gave us life. You are not Christian because you are smart. You are not Christian because you cleaned yourself up. Oh, no, you were miserable and hated God. But now you have been set free by the Prince. He paid for your life with his blood, his body destroyed, his soul given up – for you.

And now the Prince has reclaimed his life and his Throne and he has brought you to his side, but not to be nice. Oh, no. He has summoned you for adventure.

Go! Venture into the dungeons of the Enemy who once claimed you. Tell them that they are free. Many will fight you for the privilege of remaining slaves. But some, oh, sometimes the Prince will use the Word he put on your lips to free the slaves of the Enemy, and he will rejoice with you.

This is no “nice” task. You face enemies. You face hardship. You face defeat. It will be too much for you. It will overwhelm you. But your strength is not your own, Christian. Your strength is Him who freed you.

My city is no safehaven on the shore. My city is a vast ocean of adventure set before me by my God. Where will the wind blow me? That’s up to God. What adventures will I discover? He will guide me. What enemies will I encounter? None that the Prince has not already defeated.

But what will I discover? What will I explore?

The mountains of grace that God has given me – to gasp at their heights! And then, to guide other former prisoners, to point the way to current prisoners, to see the endless vistas of light that he has prepared?

Christian, you have not been called to sit on the shore. You have not been called to be “nice” and simply nod and smile when other speak of the adventure. You have been called. You have been freed from the Enemy. You have been equipped to battle enemies unnumbered…

You have been called to bear the cross.

You will suffer. Fear not; Jesus suffered for you and he suffers with you. You will face defeat. Fear not; you have been given the victory from our King. You will be beaten and shamed and shipwrecked on the shoals of so many worries; Jesus, Savior, pilot me!

Christian, you have been called for adventure.

Now the Squirrel was the Craftiest of All the Creatures…

Squirrels can ruin the Gospel.

She came to talk about her fiancé. They’re getting married in two weeks. I’ve worked with them for a while. Last night his father died.

We sat in the church sanctuary (just where we happened to meet) and I began to share the story of Lazarus with her. This is a great go-to for me; Jesus mourns, but Jesus also proves he has mastery over death itself. It’s incredibly comforting for the Christian.

And as we talked, I see movement out of the corner of my eye. I think it’s one of my children, sneaking through the sanctuary. It happens more often than I’d like to admit.

That’s no child. That’s a squirrel.

We’ve had squirrels in the sanctuary before; when the teen center is open and it’s nice outside, they prop the doors open and every once in a while some wildlife wanders in. Thankfully it’s usually confined to bugs and squirrels; we have yet to find a moose or Bill Murray in the church.

I try to ignore it. This woman needs some comfort.

The thing scurries closer. She notices it. She jumps. I scare it away and continue.

The thing climbs up near the pulpit. It climbs onto the altar.

Really, squirrel? (more…)

Empty Church/ Full Church

Sunday morning has been shrinking. People die. People find other things more important than God’s Word. People are offended by God’s Word (see also: last week’s post). This morning was particularly pathetic. We had a mere twenty people in attendance, counting me. And my family. And a guest pastor’s family. (Yeah, today was the first day of my associate preaching in the morning.)

Granted, it was Labor Day weekend. And it was hot. So hot. So humid. Bleh.

But… still. We had about half the amount of people we usually have on a Sunday. Not exactly uplifting.

And then this evening happened. At our nontraditional evening service we had nineteen people. We’d been getting around ten, and then tonight… well, a mix of nearly everyone showing up at once, starting Sunday school, and having some old friends passing through town and stopping to check out the new service – our new evening service, my “new congregation,” nearly equaled our morning traditional worship. (more…)