Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Yesterday's Eclipse

Yes, the eclipse was very cool. Although, I was mystified by the "watch parties". There were thousands of people gathered on beaches and in stadiums to watch it. That part I kind of get. The reaction I did not. They were all cheering and clapping. I'm going to have to think about that for a while.

A different thought struck me this morning. Scientists can measure the orbits of the earth, moon, and sun in time and space and predict when these things are going to happen. They were already talking, yesterday about the next full eclipse in 2024 (I think that is what they said). We can predict all kinds of things about the solar system, such as when Haley's comet will come by, when we will see meteor showers, when eclipses will be, and so forth. We can do that because there is great order and regularity in the universe.

Order and regularity. Yet, scientists also tell us that the universe began with an uncaused explosion. An explosion of matter that existed in forever past. There are two problems right there. One, explosions are not spontaneous, they need a cause. Two, matter needs a cause too. But that is not what I was thinking about today. I was thinking about the order and regularity.

Have you ever seen an explosion that produced order and regularity? Every explosion I've ever seen produced chaos and destruction. But we're supposed to believe that a really big explosion, the biggest ever, produced the order and regularity of our solar system, and galaxy, and universe? I'm with Frank Turek--I don't have enough faith to be an atheist.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Driveways and Porches

I guess that to most people nowadays driveways and porches are strictly practical. A porch is a place to  put a welcome mat and a driveway is a place to park your car for the short period of time you are actually at home each day. But I'm kind of a nostalgic sap and I realized the other day that they have had an interesting role in my life.

I was standing in the driveway waving good by to my son. He is 17 and he was only going three blocks away to spend the night at  his Nana's house. No big deal. Except watching him drive away was tough. It made me think about how proud I am of him and the young man that he is. But it also made me think that the times I get to spend waving him down the road are getting more and more limited with each passing day.

It got me remembering. We have this tradition in my family that when someone comes for a visit we all stand and wave as they leave when the visit is over. Sometimes it is from the driveway and sometimes it is from the porch, depending on the house. I can remember pulling away from my grandparents house and watching them wave from the porch. I can remember sitting on that porch as a college student and waving as my parents drove away. I can remember similar instances from houses of parents, aunts & uncles, grandparents, and friends. Its a small thing. But it means a lot to me because the relationships mean a lot to me.

I have other memories of my grandmothers' porches. Most porches these days are pretty stinking small. But back before air conditioning porches were large and shady. They were the perfect spot to sit on a rocker or glider and get a little cool breeze on a hot day. People sat on porches and watched the neighborhood kids play. They walked across the street and visited neighbors on porches. They talked about life or just listened to the birds. They also listened for the ice cream truck. These are the kinds of things we did on my grandmothers' porches.

Ya, I'm a sap. But you know, it wouldn't hurt if we all spent a little more time sitting on our porches or under a tree or someplace like that with our kids. Just to sit and talk or listen to the birds, no cell phones, no agendas. Just sit and be together; get to know each other better. Nope, that wouldn't hurt at all.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Conversation That Did Happen

Student:  I'm so excited. I start my new job this week.
Youth Worker (and no it was not me):  Why do you need a job?
Student:  So I can make my car payments.
Youth Worker:  Why do you need a car?
Student:  So I can get to my job.

This seriously happened. I gotta say that in my experience the vast majority of teens who get part time jobs end up becoming FAR less involved in church. I realize that there are some teens who legitimately have to work to help their families with income. And I realize that there are (or at least can be) worthwhile benefits from student employment. But, Christian parent, consider the costs carefully before you let your teen start working.

We live in a dark, dark society. I believe strongly that our teenagers have three really important jobs already. These jobs are vital to and flow from our relationship with God. They are part of discipleship and should be guided by a mature Christian--namely the parents.  Job one, learn to function in a Christian family. Job two, learn to function as a church member. Job three, get an academic education that will prepare you to be a contributing member of society. These are three pretty big and time consuming tasks. When we stack other things such as sports and arts and employment on top of the main three, usually something has to give way. And from what I've seen, it is usually church or family.

Be careful what you are truly teaching your children. Don't let materialism or "the American dream" guide your decision making. The Christian life is not about health, wealth, and a great resume. It is about Jesus and his kingdom.

Friday, July 14, 2017

An Observation

Looking across the landscape of Christianity here in the Bible belt sometimes it really seems like we get our theology from country "music", our ecclesiology is an amalgamation of corporate America and the public education system, and we get our missiology from Field of Dreams.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Conversations That Would Never Happen

Lonnie:  Hi Coach.
Coach:  Hi Lonnie. Its good to see you. Did you come to watch the game?
Lonnie:  Well, I came to watch, and play. Can't wait to get a little action.
Coach:  Maybe I should talk to your folks. Are they here?
Lonnie:  Sure, Dad's over by the concession stand.
Coach:  Thanks.

Coach:  Hello Mr. Westfall.
Mr. Westfall:  Hey Coach. How's life? Ready for the game?
Coach:  Ready as we're going to be I guess. We've practiced hard. That's kind of what I need to talk to you about.
Mr. Westfall:  What do you mean?
Coach:  Lonnie hasn't been here in four weeks. He missed eight practices. I actually thought he had quit the team. I can't really let him play today without practicing.
Mr. Westfall:  But he's your best player. Don't you want to win?
Coach:  Lonnie is very talented. But the other kids have practiced and bonded as a team. It just wouldn't be right to start Lonnie and I really don't even think he should play today.
Mr. Westfall:  Coach, the truth is you are not much fun. Your practices are kind of boring. And none of Lonnie's friends are on this team. Most of his friends play for the Warriors so we've been letting him go to their practices. He has a good time there. But, this is still our team so we brought him to play today. You're being very unreasonable, Coach. Just let him play. Let's not turn this in to a difficult situation.

Nope, that conversation would never happen because we take sports very seriously. If we put a child on a team we expect them to be committed to that team. Church however, is another story. If our kid doesn't like something about our church, or someone at the church, or if they have friends at another church, then our solution is to let them go with their friends as often as they want and then come to church with us every now and then.

Let me be clear. Churches are not in competition with one another. I'm not comparing sports and church from the standpoint of competition. I'm comparing sports and church from the standpoint of commitment. We expect our kids to be committed to the team we sign them up for (or that drafts them). If they don't have friends on the team, they make new ones. If they don't like one of the coaches they suck it up and learn to respect authority. But when it comes to church none of that applies. We think of church as a place to make our kids happy. No longer is church about a transcendent cause. Rather it is about fun, feelings, and personal fancies.

Church membership. What does it mean to you? Do you back that up with your actions and how you train your kids?