You would receive a box on your desk, you would open it up, and inside you would find the books that you ordered. For me, the feelings I had were like those on Christmas day. I can remember thinking that I could not wait to read all the books. I still have some of those books by the way.
Bookcloseouts.com is having their summer sale. You can find the finest books in any category, including hardcovered books and books on CD, for ridiculously low prices. Once or twice a year, I will cull through the thousands of titles and pick out a few.
Last week I e-mailed my order. Tuesday they arrived. I stayed up until one in the morning Tuesday night opening up my box and going through it. I received a couple of books on baseball, a biography focusing on Lincoln the writer, a book on spirituality and what we can find in a life of Sabbath, a couple of books on science, a couple of books on the Bible, and Alan Shepard's biography called LIGHT THIS CANDLE.
I would pick up one book and read a little bit, then I would thumb through another. My excitement surged as I thought about reading all of them. Ah, the simple pleasures of life. It was one o'clock in the morning. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. For me, it was like Christmas.
When Fooling Around is Good for Marriage
Did you know playing pranks on your spouse can be good for your marriage? I was reading this week from THE RESTLESS HEART: FINDING OUR SPIRITUAL HOME IN TIMES OF LONELINESS by Ronald Rolheiser, and he was talking about the role of playfulness in relationships.
To refresh your memory, Rolheiser, in his book is addressing the concept of how loneliness points toward our need for relationship with God and with each other. He addresses the alleviation of loneliness in a very holistic way. Parts of his practical suggestions include maintaining a spirit of playfulness in our closest relationships -- especially in our marriages.
Reflecting upon that, I thought about how often I have seen couples divorce and, upon further review, I noticed there was no sense of playfulness or humor in their relationship in the weeks, months, or years leading up to their divorce.
One of the things I appreciate most about my marriage is the spirit of fun and playfulness that we maintain. Judy has a wonderful sense of humor. She plays occasional practical jokes on me that are rather funny. I, on the other hand, treat her with the utmost care and respect.
I never thought I would do this...
Gushing over Florida’s Tim Tebow is sort of like enthusiastically plugging the work of a politician who is on the opposite side of the political spectrum. It is like enthusiastically endorsing the work of an atheist. While the guy stands against everything you believe, you cannot help but like the guy.
Tim Tebow, as quarterback of the University of Florida Gators, has helped lead his team to the national championship two out of the last three years. Tim Tebow is on the cover of this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, and he is the subject of an article by Austin Murphy. This article offers the most favorable depiction of Christianity I have ever read in the secular press. Murphy follows Tebow into a prison where Tebow addresses the inmates. He also interviews various people whose lives have been positively impacted by Tebow, including his head coach, Urban Meyer.
(While vacationing with his family on various cruises, Meyer reflected on Tebow spending vacation time in the Philippines ministering to children. Meyer was so convicted, he took his family to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip this summer. He reported that he and his family absolutely loved the experience.)
The article is an ode to life. Murphy takes his readers back to the time Tim Tebow's mother was pregnant with him. Doctors advised the Tebows to abort the child because of complications threatening the life of the mother. The parents refused, and Tim Tebow's dad prayed to God that God would bless him with a son who would preach. Tim's father jokes now, "Instead, he gave me a quarterback." Actually, Murphy writes, the Lord gave Mr. Tebow both.
I don't agree with all of the religious opinions of the Tebows, but I don't agree with all of the religious opinions of my wife, either. My differing religious opinions, and my differing rooting interests in football will not prevent me from rejoicing in a story that celebrates Christianity. I love the words of Murphy, "Having covered Tim for three years, I would say he's the most effective ambassador -- warrior for his faith I’ve come across in 25 years at SI."
GOD WORK: CONFESSIONS OF A STANDUP THEOLOGIAN
This week, I finished reading Randy Harris’ new book GOD WORK CONFESSIONS OF A STANDUP THEOLOGIAN. I highly recommend this book. Randy uses his typical humor and stories to illustrate some heavy theological concepts. Among other issues, Randy tackles the sovereignty of God, God's will, grace, the Holy Spirit, as well as cultural issues such as postmodernism in Christianity.
GOD WORK makes a strong case for the teaching of doctrine in churches. Harris states that, "doctrine is the rudder that steers the ship. Doctrine matters. And the kind of doctrine we accept either makes us spiritually healthy or unhealthy... we get healthier or unhealthier as a result of the things we believe."
One example of how Randy deals with major doctrinal questions is his treatment of the issues of the sovereignty of God and the will of God. Randy positions himself between the Calvinist and the Pelagian. He finesses his views with real skill comparing dealing with the will of God to playing in a card game with God as your partner. I know this sounds weird but trust me, it makes sense in the book.
I don't just encourage you to buy the book. I encourage you to read the book.
What Do you Want?
Sometimes when I am preaching, a thought will come into my mind that makes so much sense, it surprises even me. I don't know if it is the Holy Spirit at work or I'm having a good day. Either way, I will take it.
The latest example of this phenomenon occurred last Sunday night. I'd been preaching out of Jeremiah, which is not exactly the book you want to pick to win friends and influence people. A lot of times, Jeremiah can be downright depressing. I have had nice people come up to me and tell me how much they are getting out of this series. However, I am sure there are many more out there who are anxious for us to finish this.
Nevertheless, God is working on me at least through the book of Jeremiah. The other night, I was playing off a concept that Eugene Peterson writes about. Peterson says there are two groups of people to come to church. In one group, people are looking to God and to the church to find ways to fulfill themselves and make themselves happy. The other group is looking to God and the church to find ways to make God happy. The first group is seeking what they want. The second group is seeking what God wants.
Anyway, it was within this context that the question popped into my mind: "Is your greatest purpose in life this: 'I want to see that God gets what He wants.' If your priority is 'I want to see that God gets what He wants,' you can change the world."
In the sermon we went on to draw from the lessons of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was going against the cultural current, against the current of power, against the current of his local church, even against the current of God's people, because his greatest priority was pursuing what God wanted. He never saw the fruits of his labor, but God used him to pave the way for the Messiah. Jeremiah changed the world.
I think that one was the Holy Spirit, folks. Considering where we live, considering our day and age, we are swimming evermore against the current. However, if the essence of our purpose in life become's the pursuit of God's agenda, the fulfillment of God's desires, I really believe God will not waste that pursuit. Although, we may never see it, that pursuit in our culture context will be so pristine, God can use it to change the world.
Five things I think I think (a tip of the hat to Peter King for this idea)
1. I loved the Apollo 11 retrospectives this week. A lot of people don't know this, but Michael Murley, Steve and Mark Cook, and I flew to Mars and back in 1971 and 1972. Even more amazing, our rocket ship was my tree house.
2. By now you likely have heard about the surreptitious videotaping of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews in her hotel room and then releasing the videotape to the world on the Internet. With this event we have seen Man's perversion and inhumanity reach new depths. I pray the perpetrator is found. I realize there is no way for him (I am assuming) to face the consequences that he deserves; I do hope that he faces sufficient consequences to ward off copycat actions.
3. Thanks to the thousands who were going to attend our Shiloh men’s team softball game Tuesday night. Sorry about the rain out. Next week we are off; we play again in two weeks. The world awaits, breathlessly.
4. Congratulations to Mrs. Judy Edge. She has been formally offered and she has formally accepted a job teaching Reading and English at Moore Middle School.
5. One more week and our college prep is over; our eldest child returns home to begin her junior year in high school after being away for virtually the entire month of July. I think we parents have passed this first test. Someone said in the college Bible class I teach that if letting our first child go to college is difficult, wait until we say goodbye to our youngest. That is, I was warned, supposed to be the hardest child to release. I told him, "I am not worried. By the time Timothy is old enough for college, I’ll be dead of old age."
Have a great weekend!