What’s More, Part One (and a reflection upon Las Vegas)

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I woke up yesterday morning to the news of the horrendous attack in Las Vegas. I felt many things as I am sure all of you did. I’m tired of waking up to the news. I am absolutely exhausted of waking up to the breaking news – whether it be a mass casualty shooting; terrorism – foreign or domestic; rallies, marches, and protests utilizing violence or aggression. I, for one, am done! I’m burned out on the hatred on display in America and throughout our world! I’m just plain tired of it all; and, you should be, too! And, if you are not tired of it, then wake upbecause you are already asleep! 

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A Community of Encouragement

Are you unable to attend a church service this morning? Here is a link to the message, A Community of Encouragement!

The local church strives to be several things. Above all, it should strive to glorify God by serving the will of God in the name of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit!

A local church, or any community of faith, should also strive to be a community of encouragement!

The message, A Community of Encouragement, explores Paul’s instruction to Titus in the second chapter of his letter to the younger missionary

That’s right… I’m talking about Titus 2 and all of its patriarchal language…

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source: tenor.com

But, the message employs a sensitive reading of this antiquated language and teaching  to consider how the instruction of Paul might challenge our communities of faith to strive to be communities of encouragement in a broken, chaotic, and discouraging world!!!

If you have a moment, you can listen to the message by following this link.

Untamed

My son has recently taken an interest into bugs and insects, reptiles, and all the many other creatures he has begun to discover in his little world!

Several weeks ago, my wife and I picked our son up from school on a Friday afternoon. Our budding tradition is to stop at the local BBQ restaurant after school on Fridays to celebrate another good week at school!

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My wife and I seated the boys at the table. We plated their food off the buffet. The boys began to enjoy their meal after we put their portions before them. In the midst of eating, our oldest son reached into his pocket. He said to his mother, as he brought his hand out from his pocket, “Look what I found on the playground,” and he placed a large black beetle on the table.

My wife shrieked!

She sent him to the restroom to clean his hands and I returned the beetle to the parking lot…

Our son is still very young, but we are able to begin giving him a little bit of freedom to explore – in other words, helicoptering is not necessary at all times. We are a little more inclined to let him explore the depths of the backyard – to dig for worms, to look for beetles, to catch bugs.

He had me trap a large Golden Silk Orb-Weaver the other day. We placed it in a Tupperware container with air holes cut into the top. My wife was sleeping at the time. He ran into the house to show her the impressive size of the spider. He placed the container before her on the couch as she opened her eyes from sleep. She nearly leapt off the couch! I thought it was funny.

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The natural world is an amazing place for him right now. He is discovering the depth of creativity in our world. He is not distracted by the non-sense of the manufactured world we  have built for ourselves. The beauty of the created order is enough.

At the same time that he is discovering the beauty in nature, he is beginning to experience the disruption of the heart in the nature of the human. As my son is growing older and discovering greater things, he is also learning to communicate his thoughts and his feelings. His friends, classmates, and church “siblings” are learning to communicate, as well.

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And, quite frankly, teaching a child healthy communication skills and instructing a child on how to speak to others or how to receive the words of others, is no where as easy as it is to catch a bug or capture a spider.

Helping a child to see the beauty in the words we speak, the influence they hold, and the effect they can have upon others is dreadfully difficult. It is easier to stand in awe at the web designed by the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver than it is to explain the beauty in speaking words of kindness to another.

I thought about the world into which my son is entering this morning as I read the third chapter of James:

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. James 5b-10a

Every species of beast, bird, reptile, and sea creature can be and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue!

The discussion of “good” vs. “bad” has come up a lot in our present “Jack Hanna” themed life. Which of the snakes are “good” and which are “bad”? Which of the spiders are “good” and which are “bad”? Which of the insects are “good” and which are “bad”? The deciding factor for us has been which of these creatures, if they bite you, could result in a trip to the doctor.giphy-1.gif

Venom and poison, therefore, have become part of our ongoing conversation.

It has been relatively easy to teach my son about the threat of venomous snakes or poisonous spiders or the other creatures that have harmful bites or stings! It has actually been pretty fun watching him learn. He’s learned about frogs, skinks, salamanders, caterpillars, butterflies, and so much more!

James offers an interesting observations about the harm done by the human tongue.

“No one can tame the tongue,” we read in James, for it is “a restless evil full of deadly poison.”

An evil full of deadly poison – Those words hit a chord with me.

I am so afraid of the stings and the bites that my son might receive in the natural world, but I’ve neglected the stings and bites he will receive from others. Even worse, I’ve negelcted the stings and bites he will impose upon others.

My concern should reside here, because the greater effect can come from the untamed tongue…

James says, “With [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.”

You and I were created to glorify God. We were created to praise. Giving praise to God may be giving word to the beauty of the creatures in our midst; or, giving praise to God could be speaking words of truth, hope, and love to others. Giving praise can be many things, but it is not cursing those made in the likeness of God.

We offer stinging words and poisonous bites of the mouth when we could otherwise utilize the influence of our words to affect change in the hearts of others.

Teaching my son about the beauty of the natural world is important. It is also important to show my son there is beauty in the nature of the human, as well. I guess it starts with me. It begins with the words I speak. The words I speak to my wife, my sons, and those around me will have a far greater effect upon my son’s realization of the words he speaks and how he receives the words spoken to him.

Maybe if I speak words that bring glory to God, then my sons, who are learning to speak, will discover the power in their words, as well.

 

Cutting Boards

The first of these cutting boards is turned from a piece of Zebrawood. It is about 9″ in diameter. The second cutting board was turned out of Maple and Poplar. It is closer to 12″ in diameter. Both of them were finished with a cutting board conditioner.

Influencing Moses, Part Three

Slide2“Stepping out” and “speaking up” for what is right, just, and true is one of the most influential things any one of us can do.

Sadly, “stepping out” and “speaking up” is difficult, threatening, and risky…which is why so many people shrink away from it, hiding safely off to the side of life. Continue reading

Influencing Moses, Part Two

Slide2Part Two of the series, Influencing Moses, extends our conversation on the women who influenced the earliest part of Moses life.

Part One of the series introduces Shiphrah and Puah and the influence they would offer because they’re grounded in a healthy fear of God.

The second message in the series looks to the powerful influence of the mother of Moses and the daughter of Pharaoh. These two women would have an influence upon Moses far beyond what we learn in the second chapter of Exodus, but we do learn the source of the influence. Continue reading

Influencing Moses, Part One

Slide2Moses was certainly an influential leader in the history of Israel. To become a person of influence, however, Moses would first be influenced by others.

Influencing Moses is a series on the individuals who influenced Moses in the earliest part of his life. And, really, it is a series about the extraordinary courage of a number of women!

Part one of the series considers two lesser known women: Shiphrap and Puah! These two Hebrew midwives defied the order of the king of Egypt by allowing the boys born to the Hebrew women to live!

But, a little consideration of these women will reveal they have not acted out of disobedience (of the king); rather, the act of these women is one of radical obedience to God, whom the reverently feared.

The influence of these women is far reaching! By their actions, the further leader of the Israelites would be born! Through Moses, these women would have an influence upon all of us!

More poignant, these women influence the way we ought to view the decision we face every day. These women were given a choice: keep the command of the king or obey the will of God. These two women chose to obey the will of God even at the cost of disappointing man! And, for that reason, these women are not only an influence upon us, but they are also an inspiration to all of us – there will be times when serving the will of God will require us to disappoint man.

If you wish, have a listen to the full message!

Eclipse

Slide3I know, the eclipse is old news by now, but our message from a couple weeks ago leaned upon the (then upcoming) solar eclipse to consider how we might be a source of obstruction.

The message challenges us to remove ourselves from “the shadow of darkness cast upon us” to contemplate how we might be the obstruction to the light!

Essentially, our message is about the influence every single one us has on other people; and, the message challenges us to acknowledge the effect our influence had upon others – Does the true light shine through you? Or, are you obstructing the true light causing a shadow of darkness to be cast upon others?

The key verse leading our message comes from Matthew 15:14 – “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” The message explores the context in which this statement of Jesus is made and how it might be applied to conversation about our influence and its effect…

If you have a moment, have listen to the full message!