A Special Tale – Brock’s Story

Yesterday I was supposed to write a post for Mission Monday.

I want to share this morning the reason I didn’t.

I have some amazing friends from church. They went through a tragedy years ago when their young son died of cancer. It is always heartbreaking when someone young dies, but Brock’s Story is heartbreaking in a good way as well. It is a story of how God can work everything for good.

Please check out Brock’s Story. The main story starts here, but his mother’s introduction is important as well.

After reading this, I had too many tears to write a post. I was one of the church members who got to enjoy Brock’s special spirit for a little while. It was so touching to remember him and to see how his life touched others.

Brock’s Story is better than anything I could come up with. What a testimony.

A Special Tale – Brock’s Story

Yesterday I was supposed to write a post for Mission Monday.

I want to share this morning the reason I didn’t.

I have some amazing friends from church. They went through a tragedy years ago when their young son died of cancer. It is always heartbreaking when someone young dies, but Brock’s Story is heartbreaking in a good way as well. It is a story of how God can work everything for good.

Please check out Brock’s Story. The main story starts here, but his mother’s introduction is important as well.

After reading this, I had too many tears to write a post. I was one of the church members who got to enjoy Brock’s special spirit for a little while. It was so touching to remember him and to see how his life touched others.

Brock’s Story is better than anything I could come up with. What a testimony.

Eyes On The Prize

We all need reminders.

I just wish I didn’t require a spiritual head smack to get one.

I’ve been frustrated with some circumstances, mostly at work. My job has changed over time, and I don’t always feel like I’m making a difference or using my training or talents. I went to school for medicine – I seem to work in crisis management (and not the medical kind).

Add in some co-workers who make life difficult at times, and I have been longing to do something else lately. Life could be worse. I’m still employed, the job is not difficult, and I am liked by my management. Still, I get agitating at times, and I was focusing more on my circumstances that I didn’t like over anything else.

That’s when God spoke.

It went something like this: “Knock it off!”

I was reminded to focus on the One in control of the circumstances, over the circumstances themselves. He is in control – as always. I have seen His faithfulness too much to worry. I don’t remember this all the time, and I’m glad He doesn’t lose patience with me.

So if you hear me whining again, give me a kick in the shins please. God is too good for me to do that. I felt much better yesterday looking to Him instead of where I am. That’s how I’d prefer things.

What about you? Have you ever had one of those holy “thwacks”?

Eyes On The Prize

We all need reminders.

I just wish I didn’t require a spiritual head smack to get one.

I’ve been frustrated with some circumstances, mostly at work. My job has changed over time, and I don’t always feel like I’m making a difference or using my training or talents. I went to school for medicine – I seem to work in crisis management (and not the medical kind).

Add in some co-workers who make life difficult at times, and I have been longing to do something else lately. Life could be worse. I’m still employed, the job is not difficult, and I am liked by my management. Still, I get agitating at times, and I was focusing more on my circumstances that I didn’t like over anything else.

That’s when God spoke.

It went something like this: “Knock it off!”

I was reminded to focus on the One in control of the circumstances, over the circumstances themselves. He is in control – as always. I have seen His faithfulness too much to worry. I don’t remember this all the time, and I’m glad He doesn’t lose patience with me.

So if you hear me whining again, give me a kick in the shins please. God is too good for me to do that. I felt much better yesterday looking to Him instead of where I am. That’s how I’d prefer things.

What about you? Have you ever had one of those holy “thwacks”?

The Secret of Happiness

Ahhhh.

Duh!

I’ve been working on a novel set primarily in Thailand for a loooong time now. Much of it is based off of my own experiences there. I’ve used the web many times in research and helping me to set the mood. Still, there’s one thing I’ve overlooked until recently.

Travel bloggers.

Seems pretty obvious now, especially where one of my characters spent time backpacking in Thailand for his backstory. In the social media age there are numerous bloggers using their writing to help support their travel addiction (color me jealous).

One I’ve started following has journaled some amazing adventures – way beyond what I experienced. It has been enlightening. But when this blogger announced finding the “secret to happiness,” I was curious what it would be.

There are some good points in there about making time for what matters, getting out of the rat race, and so on, but it boiled down to one point:

Ooh, look at ME!

Do whatever makes you happy.

Ah, the old idea of hedonism. It became all about what the blogger wanted to do – having the freedom to go with the flow and travel where there is opportunity. I’d love to do that as well. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to live simply and engage in whatever strikes our fancy?

I still think we are made for something more.

Serving self brings joy for a time. Eventually, there is a realization that even this is empty. A wiser man than I once tried living for all of his desires, and he came to the conclusion that all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11).

I was saddened by this blogger’s announcement, because they were so excited by this epiphany. I know that it won’t end well if this is where they camp out for life.

I would submit that we are meant not to live for ourselves, but we are meant to live for others. My greatest joy comes when I can truly help someone and give it freely without strings attached. This isn’t often, because my selfish nature makes a mess of me, but when it does happen it resonates so deeply the ripples carry through my life for a long time.

Our ultimate example comes from a humble Jewish carpenter, who forsook everything, even when he had everything, to meet the needs of me. And you.

I hope this blogger realizes a life of sacrifice and giving, of serving others, will bring lasting happiness more than they have ever experienced in focusing on self. This is your life, so I encourage you to give it a try.

The Secret of Happiness

Ahhhh.

Duh!

I’ve been working on a novel set primarily in Thailand for a loooong time now. Much of it is based off of my own experiences there. I’ve used the web many times in research and helping me to set the mood. Still, there’s one thing I’ve overlooked until recently.

Travel bloggers.

Seems pretty obvious now, especially where one of my characters spent time backpacking in Thailand for his backstory. In the social media age there are numerous bloggers using their writing to help support their travel addiction (color me jealous).

One I’ve started following has journaled some amazing adventures – way beyond what I experienced. It has been enlightening. But when this blogger announced finding the “secret to happiness,” I was curious what it would be.

There are some good points in there about making time for what matters, getting out of the rat race, and so on, but it boiled down to one point:

Ooh, look at ME!

Do whatever makes you happy.

Ah, the old idea of hedonism. It became all about what the blogger wanted to do – having the freedom to go with the flow and travel where there is opportunity. I’d love to do that as well. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to live simply and engage in whatever strikes our fancy?

I still think we are made for something more.

Serving self brings joy for a time. Eventually, there is a realization that even this is empty. A wiser man than I once tried living for all of his desires, and he came to the conclusion that all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11).

I was saddened by this blogger’s announcement, because they were so excited by this epiphany. I know that it won’t end well if this is where they camp out for life.

I would submit that we are meant not to live for ourselves, but we are meant to live for others. My greatest joy comes when I can truly help someone and give it freely without strings attached. This isn’t often, because my selfish nature makes a mess of me, but when it does happen it resonates so deeply the ripples carry through my life for a long time.

Our ultimate example comes from a humble Jewish carpenter, who forsook everything, even when he had everything, to meet the needs of me. And you.

I hope this blogger realizes a life of sacrifice and giving, of serving others, will bring lasting happiness more than they have ever experienced in focusing on self. This is your life, so I encourage you to give it a try.

One Little Detail

Sometimes it is the one little detail that changes things. One “tweak” in the regular ways of things can make a big difference.

Last week I was signed up for a photography class in the evening after work. I had to work in a different town, so I brought my laptop in my backpack to mess with the photos from last class.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I realized I was closer to the vehicle next to me than I liked. Trying to be considerate, I only opened my door halfway. I’d have to squeeze out, but no big deal.

Except for one little detail.

Hurts right THERE!
I threw my backpack on my left shoulder. The backpack loaded down with extra weight. I slipped it out first, and twisted and leaned to the left as I got out of the car.
Tweak

Yeah, that was the sound of my back going out. I started having pain before I got to the doors of the building. In two hours I couldn’t sit OR stand for long periods of time. Thankfully I work in a medical office so I was able to use an e-stim machine to zap my spasming muscles to buy a little relief.

There are actually several “little details” that contributed to my back going out. If I wasn’t taking the class. If I hadn’t brought my laptop. If I hadn’t parked too close to the other vehicle. If I loaded my right shoulder instead of the left.

It made me think of the spiritual life. Sometimes all it takes is that one little detail: a white lie, a tiny compromise, a small sin. It’s not a big deal, right? What is it going to hurt?

Sometimes it can hurt a lot. Trust me.

It took a few days of rest and a visit to my friendly neighborhood physical therapist to get put back together. All of the yard work I had planned for the weekend? Not happening. Still, the physical issues could be restored with a skilled therapist and rest.

The little sin, the small compromise, the white lie?

Not as easily.

Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes that spoil the vines,
For our vines have tender grapes. Song of Solomon 2:15

One Little Detail

Sometimes it is the one little detail that changes things. One “tweak” in the regular ways of things can make a big difference.

Last week I was signed up for a photography class in the evening after work. I had to work in a different town, so I brought my laptop in my backpack to mess with the photos from last class.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I realized I was closer to the vehicle next to me than I liked. Trying to be considerate, I only opened my door halfway. I’d have to squeeze out, but no big deal.

Except for one little detail.

Hurts right THERE!
I threw my backpack on my left shoulder. The backpack loaded down with extra weight. I slipped it out first, and twisted and leaned to the left as I got out of the car.
Tweak

Yeah, that was the sound of my back going out. I started having pain before I got to the doors of the building. In two hours I couldn’t sit OR stand for long periods of time. Thankfully I work in a medical office so I was able to use an e-stim machine to zap my spasming muscles to buy a little relief.

There are actually several “little details” that contributed to my back going out. If I wasn’t taking the class. If I hadn’t brought my laptop. If I hadn’t parked too close to the other vehicle. If I loaded my right shoulder instead of the left.

It made me think of the spiritual life. Sometimes all it takes is that one little detail: a white lie, a tiny compromise, a small sin. It’s not a big deal, right? What is it going to hurt?

Sometimes it can hurt a lot. Trust me.

It took a few days of rest and a visit to my friendly neighborhood physical therapist to get put back together. All of the yard work I had planned for the weekend? Not happening. Still, the physical issues could be restored with a skilled therapist and rest.

The little sin, the small compromise, the white lie?

Not as easily.

Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes that spoil the vines,
For our vines have tender grapes. Song of Solomon 2:15

Doctrine and Discussion, Part 2

Ready for round 2?

Yesterday I posted about the discussion surrounding Rob Bell and his latest book Love Wins. (Not about the book itself, if that’s what you’re looking for – but stick around anyway!) In watching the discussion online, I noticed an accusation that was disconcerting. Many people questioned whether there was heresy or an admission of universalism in the book. That wasn’t my issue. My concern came when some commenters started hitting back accusing critics of placing more importance on doctrine over love and relationship.

My previous point was the repetitive admonishment in the books of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus over teaching sound doctrine. Paul stressed that over and over again in those books, so I don’t think it is out of line for people to actually question whether there are doctrinal problems in any author’s work.

I had another point though, the subject of today’s post. Again, I go to the pastoral letters for support.



“Did not!” “Did so!”

 Paul repeats another theme for Timothy and Titus: avoid quarrelsome speech (Titus 3:2, 1 Tim 3:3, 2 Tim 2:14, 24). This idea is suggested several times, also in the form of controversies, dissensions, or myths.

I’ve seen this in many arenas, from Christians fighting amongst themselves to politicians tearing each other down. This has frustrated me for a long time. A person can spout fully orthodox positions, be clearly speaking God’s word, but they do it in such an ugly manner that it totally demeans the very point they’re trying to make.

People on both sides of the Rob Bell debate have been guilty of this. Whether they’re angry, smug, sarcastic, condemning, or just plain nasty or rude, they are violating another key point of the pastoral letters. “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth.” (2 Tim 2:24-25).

How we react in such things is just as important as the what and why! We may be speaking the truth, but if we do it in the wrong spirit, then we are also disobeying the Lord and walking in sin. I’ve been very disturbed to see televangelists or a conservative Christian politician tear down opponents of their positions. That, to me, is not the Spirit of Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. Titus 1:9 tells us that an overseer must “be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.” Mature believers have a responsibility to examine an idea from a book, a teacher, a church, and to see if it matches up with sound doctrine. But the heart of the matter can be lost if it is done in anger or putting someone down.

Romans 12:20-21 says: “’If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” OK, so I don’t think this passage should be considered to be calling Rob Bell or his detractors “enemies” or “evil.” The principle is moving in the opposite spirit. Shouldn’t Christians be able to speak with grace and gentleness, especially with issues involving other Christians?

I’ve really enjoyed studying the letters of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus lately. I’ve had to step up into a new leadership position at my church, so I figured Paul’s advice here would be valuable. The dual emphasis on teaching sound doctrine but doing so without quarreling/with gentleness in these letters has been a poignant reminder in what I’ve been reading online lately. My hope for anyone reading these two posts is that they continue to seek the truth, but speak it in love.

Doctrine and Discussion, Part 2

Ready for round 2?

Yesterday I posted about the discussion surrounding Rob Bell and his latest book Love Wins. (Not about the book itself, if that’s what you’re looking for – but stick around anyway!) In watching the discussion online, I noticed an accusation that was disconcerting. Many people questioned whether there was heresy or an admission of universalism in the book. That wasn’t my issue. My concern came when some commenters started hitting back accusing critics of placing more importance on doctrine over love and relationship.

My previous point was the repetitive admonishment in the books of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus over teaching sound doctrine. Paul stressed that over and over again in those books, so I don’t think it is out of line for people to actually question whether there are doctrinal problems in any author’s work.

I had another point though, the subject of today’s post. Again, I go to the pastoral letters for support.



“Did not!” “Did so!”

 Paul repeats another theme for Timothy and Titus: avoid quarrelsome speech (Titus 3:2, 1 Tim 3:3, 2 Tim 2:14, 24). This idea is suggested several times, also in the form of controversies, dissensions, or myths.

I’ve seen this in many arenas, from Christians fighting amongst themselves to politicians tearing each other down. This has frustrated me for a long time. A person can spout fully orthodox positions, be clearly speaking God’s word, but they do it in such an ugly manner that it totally demeans the very point they’re trying to make.

People on both sides of the Rob Bell debate have been guilty of this. Whether they’re angry, smug, sarcastic, condemning, or just plain nasty or rude, they are violating another key point of the pastoral letters. “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth.” (2 Tim 2:24-25).

How we react in such things is just as important as the what and why! We may be speaking the truth, but if we do it in the wrong spirit, then we are also disobeying the Lord and walking in sin. I’ve been very disturbed to see televangelists or a conservative Christian politician tear down opponents of their positions. That, to me, is not the Spirit of Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. Titus 1:9 tells us that an overseer must “be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.” Mature believers have a responsibility to examine an idea from a book, a teacher, a church, and to see if it matches up with sound doctrine. But the heart of the matter can be lost if it is done in anger or putting someone down.

Romans 12:20-21 says: “’If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” OK, so I don’t think this passage should be considered to be calling Rob Bell or his detractors “enemies” or “evil.” The principle is moving in the opposite spirit. Shouldn’t Christians be able to speak with grace and gentleness, especially with issues involving other Christians?

I’ve really enjoyed studying the letters of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus lately. I’ve had to step up into a new leadership position at my church, so I figured Paul’s advice here would be valuable. The dual emphasis on teaching sound doctrine but doing so without quarreling/with gentleness in these letters has been a poignant reminder in what I’ve been reading online lately. My hope for anyone reading these two posts is that they continue to seek the truth, but speak it in love.