Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Truth is "Written In": or, "All Truth is God's Truth"

“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, an intelligent man in other matters, says that there is only a ‘theological’ opposition to divorce, and that it is entirely founded on ‘certain texts’ in the Bible about marriages. This is exactly as if he said that a belief in the brotherhood of men was only founded on certain texts in the Bible, about all men being the children of Adam and Eve. 

Millions of peasants and plain people all over the world assume marriage to be static, without having ever clapped eyes on any text. Numbers of more modern people, especially after the recent experiments in America, think divorce is a social disease, without having ever bothered about any text. It may be maintained that even in these, or in any one, the idea of marriage is ultimately mystical; and the same may be maintained about the idea of brotherhood.” (The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, Vol. 4, 230-1.)

Sunday, October 2, 2022

"Go Large or Go Home"

“Go large or go home!” The words from my gifted friend stung and made me want to hide. I knew what he meant – “Do your best, be all you can be!” But the implication was more than I could bear. Does everything have to be large? Is value found only in the spotlight where people say, “Wow!”? What about the rest of us, the 99% who live on the sidelines, hoping our lives matter, too?

The allure of fame is a common human problem and it helps to remember the words of the ancient prophet: “Do not despise the small things.” Little things matter?! How can that be? Small things are annoying. Children are underfoot, bills have to be paid, the dog gets fed (or not), the gas gauge signals empty, the phone rings again, the lawn needs mowed.

We remember small things matter at graduation when all the hard work pays off. And we know it is true when a few cucumber seeds overwhelm our garden. We get it that “a small leak will sink a large ship,” and, “Words are small like a match; and they can set a forest on fire.” These things we do well to remember. But in all these cases we value small because we know it has large results. We toss the mortar board in the air, the ship is sound, we prevent fires, and we might even boast of our cucumber harvest!

But is that the final word? Graduation is soon forgotten, ships are supposed to sail, few learn to hold their tongue well, and no one really wants nineteen overgrown cucumbers!

Truth is, when all is counted we are left with ourselves and the quiet daily life of small things. These are the simple disciplines that teach what matters: tend to the mind and soul, sow good seeds, fulfill your responsibilities, give care to your speech, check your anger, don't let money rule you. We learn to do it because it matters, not because it is large.

And this comes around to the surprising truth in that grating challenge: “Go large or go home.” The largest small thing in our lives is, after all, home. Nothing is larger, and nothing requires more daily small attentiveness. In fact, forget large! I want to go home! Home beats “large” any day and pays the richest long-term dividends. 

It is true, of course, that home can cause great pain, which speaks to the volatile nature of our greatest treasures: they can bless mightily or hurt with equal weight. But that is not the fault of the treasure, but in how we handle it. Those who find the blessings of home do so because they apply themselves to the vital necessaries of daily small things. When we tend to these everyday cares we become people of substance and blessing, able to make and enjoy a treasured home.

What holds your focus and attention? It is easy to love largeness, and large is not wrong of itself. But it oversells and leaves empty as many celebrities can attest. Small things are their own reward, worth the investment and the rewards. And they help you build your life so even if you never get to go large, you can always go home!


Thursday, December 9, 2021

"Freely you have received, freely give..."

 

"Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes." (Annie Dillard, Write Till You Drop)


She is on to something. ;) 

"Channels only, blessed Master, but with all Thy wondrous pow'r
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us, every day and every hour.

This old lyric is only true in loving relationship with Him. More than channels only -- we are friends, devoted servants, sons and daughters of our Elder Brother, redeemed Children of Light, "workers together with God."

Yet, if we hoard what we receive it rots like the secreted manna.

Lord, you are the Safe for our lives. Let me not fashion my own private safe, imaging I can keep something there, only to find ashes on that Final Day when all is opened.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Preacher Shock

Preacher Shock


I saw a miracle today:
Water to wine, stone to bread.
The mind was helpless, mute; the spirit wan.
The need relentless, deep. No way out.
Capacity flat, weakness great, hope bare.
Someone prayed. God poured grace.
A listener wept. “Exactly what I needed.”

I saw a miracle today. 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Musing

Musing speaks of thinking, used perhaps when one hopes it is fruitful, peaceful, right. Not all musing bears good. Some merely repeats, going nowhere. Some breeds and feeds anxiety. Some puffs with pride of reason, hubris compounding its own pretensions. Or something like that.

I have (almost) nothing to say these days. I read alot, mostly online news and Facebook posts. Much important reading goes begging, as my stalled Kindle account attests. I am nearly done with my second time through the Bible this year, so that's a plus. And an Alaskan summer is nearly over, with its relentless demands on mind and body.

God is good. More than ever I feel the need of grace. "Without Him I would be nothing." This is no 'worm theology' as it is often disparagingly called. Of course we are special creatures, made in God's image though fallen. But without Him -- intrinsic image and daily sustaining -- we are nothing. 

I browsed a bit in William Law today, a book on the Holy Spirit in which he challenges us to surrender our reason. With plain sense he said reason, too, is part of who we are and if we are to give all to God, reason is included. Really? Must I? "Lean not on thine own understanding."

What a death knell this is, for how do we let go of reason and still function? "But God expects you to use your brain!" True that! We use our brain as the gift it is, and it helps bring us to the Giver where we submit it to Him, for "the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge." He takes all we surrender, makes it new and whole and clean and gives it back to us.

That is more than two cents, but it came around to sense for me, and I am grateful for a musing that leads me to prayer. That is always a fruitful musing.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Skills for Great Preaching

Pulling some thoughts from Wayne McDill's "The 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching." The below is from the introduction. 


  • McDill says, "I have been preaching for 35 years but I am still working at it." Encouraging for those of us in the early learning years. :)
  • The "why" of a sermon is vital. If the hearer is not persuaded it matters, she will not listen. Or if she listens, will easily forget.
  • "Striking content is of real interest to the hearer, even if the delivery is weak."
  • "Most Christians hear from rather humble and nondescript pastors week by week" and so, seems to me, we must dare to believe God is at work in them, even them. What else could we think?
  • "The great weakness of preaching is fuzzy, ill-defined ideas." Ugh! I say again, ugh!! :)
  • "Preaching is a supernatural endeavor. Anyone can learn the necessary skills with discipline, hard work, and a commitment to clear thinking and Bible-based sermons."

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Grandpa, My Hero

Grandpa, My Hero

Grandpa will always be my hero. I can’t tell you all the reasons why – I can’t. But I will try.

He is someone I want to be: qualities of hard work, children, farm, honesty, love, determination; serving his country at great sacrifice, going to college and entering the ministry with a young family, returning to roots to live and care and work hard and honest for a lifetime.

It is hard to grasp, this hero thing. If I were to say this to him he would have sort of laughed and mumbled something about life and failures…or more likely, if I told him he was my hero he would have responded silently, moving on as soon as he could.

There was a quiet love in this man. I of course never talked to him about marriage and his love for Grandma. But I have a feeling, a sneaking suspicion – a pretty sure conviction – that they loved each other with passion and tenderness. And their love grew and grew, learning to bear faults and failures with grace and truth and kindness. They loved each other with intensity and that love gave them 8 children and so many grandchildren and greats. It was really there, I think – imperceptible almost – this amazing, foundational, real love. He would have been pained at his failings in showing love, but he loved nonetheless. I want to be like him. He will always be a hero to me.

He was a hero from the time I saw him running past the bleachers to play in a stars and stiffs game at MWC. He would have been about 50. He got in there and mixed it up with those young guys and this wide-eyed 5 year-old loved every minute.

He was a hero from the time he let me into the mix of uncles doing Thanksgiving woodcutting. I was eager to help – too eager I am sure – but he let me help and I loved it so much. You just can’t know how much I loved it. I loved my Grandpa – he will always be my hero.

He will always be a hero for the way I used to hear him in the mornings, in and out, doing chores while Grandma fixed breakfast. I would roll over and go back to sleep and when I woke up he was gone, hard at work on some project somewhere.

He will always be my hero for the breakfasts Jane and I had with him and Grandma in later years. So much love and interest, and the timeless habit of reading from a devotional book when we were done eating. That voice will always be in my mind, kind of deep and gentle, going somewhere but not in a hurry, interested in hearing and sharing the things of God. Grandpa will always be my hero because he really worked at this thing of loving God in the midst of all that life demands. He seemed to feel his shortcomings painfully but he always got up and kept going.

And go he did. Who could stop this man? Grandma couldn’t, it seems. Of course, amazing woman that she was, I’m sure she kept him going and…if she wanted him to stop, really wanted him to, I bet he stopped on a dime and did her bidding, with love and gladness.

But…he seemed pretty hard to stop! I always loved and laughed at his determination to work beyond what other folks call retirement. I think he was going on 90 before he really retired. When he visited our home in 2004 I was doing a roof job on the campus where we lived. At 86 or so he insisted on getting up on the roof with me – in dress shoes. He had forgotten his work shoes but he wasn’t going to miss the action. He stood at the peak and just sort of took it in as I worked for awhile. Kind of a mystery going on in those eyes, the insatiable longing to be busy, to get things done, the yearning for and loving of life that makes him a hero to all of us.

Grandpa was a real man, a hero for a thousand reasons. Rugged and sacrificial WWII service, hard work in whatever it took to raise a family, love and determined devotion to God that expressed itself in countless ways, a family heritage that, to me, is rich beyond words.

This is my Grandpa, my hero. I want to be like him, I really do, and I will always count my self incredibly blessed that Glenn Hoerner was my Grandpa.