Monday, January 31, 2011

Where Would I Be If I Had Gotten To Where I was Going?

            For anyone who knows me, it is no secret that I grew up wanting to be the starting quarterback of the world champion, Dallas Cowboys. In case you have not heard, I did not make it.
            I am now attaining an age where, I hope, I have some perspective. With that in mind, I relate to you that I have been observing quarterbacks, who have done well, and are between my age and older.
         These guys are getting old. I do not mean necessarily chronologically, what I mean is physically. The game of football has taken an incredible toll on many of them.
            John Elway has had one knee replaced. He is my age.
            Joe Montana is four years older than me; he is severely limited physically because of a terrible back.
            I remember reading that Johnny Unitas lived out the remaining years of his life with basically a dysfunctional right arm and hand–the consequence of arm damage sustained during his legendary football career.
            These are just brief examples of men who have sustained physical trauma. While I did not enjoy the career they did, I can today get down on the floor with my eight-year-old son and wrestle with him. I can play full-court basketball with high school students and older, and I can climb mountains with my two teenage daughters on wilderness trek.
            No, I never led a team to the Super Bowl and became famous. However, were I to take one of the books I read as a child that inspired me–GREAT QUARTERBACKS OFF THE NFL–to the high school Bible class I teach, I would be shocked to discover one student, who could identify even two of the ten quarterbacks profiled in that book. (The book includes quarterbacks such as Sammy Baugh, John Unitas, and Bart Starr.)
           Joe Montana is a nebulous figure to this year's high school graduates. He won his fourth Super Bowl three years before they were born.
           The longer I live, the more quarterbacks are added to the list of all time greats. That means the list of forgotten, great quarterbacks grows longer and longer.
            All this to say, if I had fulfilled my dream, what would it have gotten me now? Perhaps, a body offering chronic pain, and a memory for fans fading faster than that photograph in the first BACK TO THE FUTURE movie. (I wonder how many people have forgotten that movie–or, are too young to have seen it?)
            Maybe things worked out better after all.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. Dare I pick Green Bay in the Super Bowl? Yes, I dare.
2. I have not heard one person say something positive about yesterday’s NFL Pro Bowl. I thought, at last, it would be put out of its misery. Then, I heard today that it boasted its highest TV rating in 11 years. So much for eliminating the Pro Bowl.
3. I have heard so much about FOX’s series—GLEE—that I decided to check it out from the public library. So far, I have only seen the pilot. Here’s what I think from the viewpoint of theological reflection:
            Wouldn’t it be great if someone could take a conglomeration of misfits and, in the presence of the cool, the beautiful, and the powerful, produce beautiful music? One did.
            God did. And the conglomeration of misfits is called the church.
            Maybe a group of college Christians could band together and watch an episode each week to theologically reflect upon.
            They could call it—Glee Club.
4. I bargained with my two oldest to get THE MISSILES OF OCTOBER from NETFLIX. We watched it Saturday. It was the third time I've seen it, and it has been years since I last watched it.
            Haleigh and Abby were not thrilled—at first. Rather quickly, though, they warmed up to the movie.
            Made in 1974, THE MISSILES OF OCTOBER boasts a stellar cast, and recounts the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. William Devane does the best job of any actor portraying JFK. 34-year-old Martin Sheen portrays Robert Kennedy.
            The film intriguingly presents the crisis from both the Soviet and the U. S. points of view. Even though, we intuitively realized the planet is still here, my girls and I could not help but feel tension as the crisis persisted.
            This is a great movie to watch with your teenagers.
5. Good for you, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. I read the article about your fifteen years together and your continuing commitment to your marriage and family. May you enjoy decades more of happiness. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Colon is Beautiful, and I’m not Bad Looking Myself

            Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to engage in what should be a great American midlife ritual—a colonoscopy. I turned 50 last September, so my time had come—and I survived!
            I know many people do not get a colonoscopy (and they should!). They fear the unknown. So, in the spirit of Katie Couric who, years ago, underwent a colonoscopy on National TV on the TODAY show (don’t worry, the event was videotaped and edited), I wish to share what you can expect. Hopefully, you and others will decide it is not a big deal and experience one when needed.
            Disclaimer # 1—My wife, Judy, and my normal proofreader, Sherry Bobbitt, have not seen this blog. Both have plausible deniability. Judy rarely reads my blog before I publish it (she may rarely read it anyway!), and Sherry is at home today due to an illness in the family. Therefore, I am flying solo today.

"Some men see things as they are and say, Why? I of dream things that never were, and say, Why not?"
            --George Bernard Shaw

            That has nothing to do with what I am going to write about; I just thought it would lend some dignity to the occasion.
            I had heard so much about how the prep time was the worst part of the colonoscopy, that I really did not dread the colonoscopy itself. While it wasn't exactly “bucket list” material, I still approached the procedure as something I must do, and then check it off for the next 10 years.
            However, the Saturday before, a spiritual battle erupted in the cosmos. That Saturday night, our bathtub stopped up. Next, our shower stopped up. Then, right before bed, the commode in our master bedroom bathroom overflowed. Sunday morning, I shut the water off that commode, and the commode in our guest bathroom overflowed.
            I called a plumber who did not charge overtime, and he told me something I had not thought about. Plumbers were not able work outside with electrical tools because of a driving rainstorm we were experiencing in Tyler. Since our problem was probably a clogged water line or sewer line, outside work was likely necessary.
            Under ordinary circumstances, this shut-down would present problems for my family, but since Tuesday was to be the proud day for my colonoscopy, what we were experiencing represented a crisis. In case you did not know, anyone prepping the day before a colonoscopy needs permanent access to a commode.
            I began to suspect either the Lord or Satan was against the colonoscopy. What I could not figure out was—which one? And why was one or the other against my colonoscopy? 
            I had to plan ahead. Do I reserve a hotel or motel room for Monday? Do I ask my poor 77-year-old mother if I can stay with her? Do I build an outhouse in my backyard?
            Incredibly, a potential solution created another problem for me. At 4:45 on Sunday afternoon, I received a call from a plumber. The rain had stopped; he could come out and look at our problem.
            Everybody in my family was gone, so I rushed to the house from my office to meet the plumber. Sure enough, he diagnosed the problem as a clogged line and said he could fix it. Monday's problem was solved.
            The new problem was—I had to go preach. Do I leave the plumber at the house by himself? That was not a good idea, and he probably would not have accepted that offer anyway.
            Fortunately, Judy was team teaching that night, so her co-teacher was able to fulfill the classroom duties. Judy stayed home with the plumber. We considered our plight at home to be the equivalent of “the ox stuck in the ditch”; therefore, neither Judy nor I sinned.
             The plumber did his job, so I was able to go to bed Sunday night somewhat confident for Monday. At 7 AM Monday morning, I began my prep work. First, the doctor had instructed me to take a heavy dosage of laxatives. Next, a couple of hours later, I was to take four more tablets for any pressure my stomach my experience. Next, about 30 minutes after that, I was to drink 64 ounces of Gatorade mixed with 255 grams of an even heavier dosage of laxative.
            Incredibly, none of this was distasteful. The Gatorade mixture tasted like–Gatorade. Drinking 8 ounces every 15 minutes, I finished off the non-alcoholic cocktail in a couple of hours.
            After all of this, the intended effect had not begun to occur. I was beginning to wonder if there was a problem when about 2:30 or so, it all hit.             Periodically, I had to go visit… well, let’s just say the “water closet.” Fortunately, I did not experience cramping, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the prep work was going. At about 7 PM, I ceased needing to visit the facilities.
            Since I was to arrive at the digestive Center at 7 AM the following morning, I planned to go to bed at 9 or 10 PM Monday night. However, at about 8:30 or 9, “it” hit again. Now, I was slightly concerned. I thought I was supposed to be done with that long before. (I tell you this so you will not feel anxious should the same happen to you.) Finally, about 11 PM, I decided it was worth attempting to go to sleep.

Learn from My Mistakes
            My alarm woke me up at 5:30 the next morning, and I realized–success! I did not have to get up during in the night.
            I arose, put the dogs out into the dog run, fed the dogs, took the trashcan out to the street, and then… “it” hit me one more time. I tell you this because I began to feel anxious that something was wrong and that the colonoscopy was going to have to be cancelled. It wasn’t. If this happens to you, don’t worry about it.
            However, do be concerned about this—drink plenty of water your day of prep. This is where I made an important mistake. Since I drank some water on Monday morning, and since I drank 64 ounces of Gatorade early Monday afternoon, I figured I spare myself a hassle if I held off drinking anything else until I had purged my body.
            This is known in elementary school language as—dumb! I had thought it was useless to drink anything because the water would just pass through my stomach and into my… well, you get the idea. Moreover, I thought I could simply listen to my body talk to me. If my body needed water, I figured it would pass along the message.
            What I did not realize was the Gatorade passed through me so fast because it carried enough laxative in it to fill a dump truck. Any water I added after that would have been greatly appreciated by my body.
            The next morning, my body gave me a message alright—“You idiot! I am dehydrated!”
            Here’s how my body told me. Again, I would not recommend this.
            First, my body began speaking to me in the bathroom at about 6 AM Tuesday morning. I began to sweat profusely and feel dizzy. Having read that a surprisingly high percentage of Americans die on toilets, I felt compelled to get off mine. Evidently, I had not attained a consensus on this with my body, for I passed out on the bathroom floor.
            Quickly, I staggered back up on my feet, made sure my clothes were arranged in decency and order, washed my hands and face... and then I began to feel dizzy again.
            Leaving our bathroom, I had trouble walking. I groped along the bookcases in our master bedroom, until I collapsed again. I faintly heard someone cry, and then I was passed out. I awoke with Judy holding me. She had been in another room when she heard me groping the bookcases, which she said sounded like a train coming down the railroad tracks.
            Our oldest daughter, Haleigh, awoke with a start. Seeing what was happening, she alertly called 911.
            I woke up pretty quickly after my collapse (I prefer to say, “I collapsed” instead of, “I fainted.” It’s a guy thing, I guess.) Judy ordered me not to move.
            Quickly, a fire truck and ambulance arrived at or house—so much for subtlety. The medics checked my vital signs and asked me a series of questions.             
            It was here I learned the profound lesson that it is not wise to quit drinking liquids at 1:30 PM on the day of your prep. I was dehydrated.
            The medics wanted take me to the emergency room, but I vetoed that. There was no way I was going to miss my colonoscopy. I had come too far. Wasn’t it on an occasion such as this that Knute Rockne said to “win one for the Gipper”?
            The medics tried to talk me out of that, but they finally relented when I promised to tell the doctor what had happened and signed a paper saying I wouldn’t sue them if I died.
            Judy also tried to talk me out of going, but I was determined. Did the Allied Forces cease the D-Day invasion because the going got tough? Okay, maybe my analogy is slightly over-the-top, but you get the idea—I was not going to be denied my colonoscopy!

The Main Event
            I was to arrive at the Digestive Center for my colonoscopy at 7 AM. I arrived at 7:02. Not bad.
            By 8 AM, I was talking to my doctor. Neither he nor anyone else seemed to be too concerned about what I had experienced; my guess is this is not the first time they had seen or heard of this. They simply put an IV in my arm and began hydrating me with fluids.
            My doctor and I chitchatted for a few minutes; a medical professional introduced himself and explained he needed to insert something in my arm.
            The next thing I knew, I was groggily waking up and being told to get dressed. I have absolutely no recollection of the colonoscopy. They could have dressed me like a clown and spun me round and round, and I would not have known it.
            I dressed myself and faintly remember someone offering me a wheelchair. Accepting their offer, I was wheeled out and given a ride home.            
            Upon arriving home, I ate a pop tart and drank a glass of orange juice. Henry Holub, one of our staff members, told me that I called him about this time. He was supposed to teach my Bible class at East Texas Christian Academy for me that morning. As much as I would like to deny it, my cell phone confirms that I phoned him at 10:26 AM.
            Henry said I told him class began at 10:54. Henry said I sounded “loopy.” I suspect it was because, according to Henry, I repeated “10:54” fifteen times.
            I can neither confirm nor deny this. If I called you, I sincerely apologize.             
            I went to bed about 10:30 AM. I woke up that afternoon at 1:30. I ate lunch, watched a movie on Netflix, and went back to bed at 3:30. I slept until 5:30. The rest of the evening was routine.
            As a parting gift, the Digestive Center gave me a photograph, make that several photographs, of my colon. I am thinking that displaying these in my office might break down communication barriers and create a quick intimacy with my guests. 
            I shared this idea with Judy. Judy did not think this was a good one.
            The upshot of all this is my colon looks great. I have no polyps, and I do not need to get another colonoscopy for ten years.
            In ten years, I will definitely go again. I have learned my lesson. I must drink plenty of fluids the day before during my prep time.
            I cannot tell you how important it is to get your colonoscopy at age fifty, or if your doctor recommends one to you at an earlier age. It really is no big deal. All you need is to plan well; you will probably need two days of your time.
            Remember, follow all of your doctor’s instructions and stay hydrated. Remember also, the colonoscopy could save your life.
            I have read colon cancer is the silent killer. It needs no more victims.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. Well-said by ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, “…basically, here’s how you get a TV show in America: … you have a malady or an emotional issue we can exploit….”

2. I barely missed on my August prediction—Green Bay versus the Jets in the Super Bowl.

3. Who is this quarterback for the Bears—Caleb Hanie? There is nothing harder than trying to play when you have not practiced. Hanie played spectacularly, and he did so basically after having taken a three-year leave of absence. I have a big bias AGAINST talent. What I mean is that talent is overrated. Jay Cutler has talent. But Chicago needs to look at Caleb Hanie to compete for the job next year.

4. I was driving Saturday with my daughter, Haleigh.  We heard an Elton John song on the radio. On a whim, I asked her to download “Empty Garden” on to my iPhone—a song I had not heard in years. The song is a lament of the assassination of John Lennon. The lyrics are by Bernie Taupin, but the song expresses Elton John’s sentiments. John had a special relationship with Lennon. The song carries a haunting melody, and I think it is powerful.

5. Saturday marked a tragic milestone. On January 22, 1973, the U. S. Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade ruling. I’m not lawyer, but I learned something playing golf that illustrates why I feel comfortable to comment.
            In golf, there are times you lose your ball, and you cannot find it. Your playing partner, however, can approach from across the fairway and walk right up to your ball. You are too caught up in the morass of grass, leaves on the ground, and trees to see it.
            Allow me to “approach from across the fairway” and spot something our judicial system cannot see. Roe v. Wade is the most contrived ruling in the history of the Supreme Court. Not intending to pun, Harry Blackmun legalistically manufactured an argument to fulfill his wish, and the wish of many others. That wish was wrong; civilization is crippled for these efforts.  

Monday, January 17, 2011


Last year was one of the most important in Shiloh's history. I say so for various reasons; one of which is, the decision of our elders to re-organize their ministry structure. Shiloh’s elders have formed three teams based upon their gifts.
             One team is the Administrative team. J. B. Berry, Leonard Kent, and John Thompson serve on this team. Looking to Jesus, the great administrator in the household of faith, (see Hebrews chapter 3), they seek to serve as overseers of the Lord's church. That does not mean they will not serve in other ways, but administration oversight will be a priority for them.
             A second team is the Pastoral team. Don Faubus, Travis Hunt, David Smith, and John Eastland serve on this team. As you might imagine, the priority for this team is to assure that the pastoral needs of the church are being met. They, too, serve in the line of Jesus, the great Shepherd.
             The third and final team is the Vision team. Mike Warner and David Litton serve on this team. What greater visionary is found in Scripture than Jesus? He is the one who anticipated the future and saw ahead for the disciples. Likewise, the leadership of the church should be the ones to supply the vision.
             Who leads the church? In some churches, it is one man. Many times this man is called the Pastor. He is responsible for setting the vision, administrating, and supplying the network for pastorally caring for the church. I, personally, do not think this is biblical. It usually destroys something in the Pastor’s life as well: his family, his marriage, his health… something.
             In some churches, the staff supplies the leadership. It is easier to grow a church when the staff leads, as opposed to when one man leads. Typically, one man can provide very little pastoral care. If he does not delegate well, up to 150 is all you can expect the church to reach. With a staff, you can reach more, but again, I question how biblical this is.
             The ultimate biblical model is the eldership. This is a group of men, not one. They model for the community—community. They serve according to their gifts. They're not cookie cutters. Ideally, they work hand-in-hand with staff, who serve under their oversight. Shiloh follows this model.
             Our elders have formed pastoral groups in order to care at the more individual level for the flock. Roughly, each elder cares for about 60 members. Is this ideal? No, but it is an improvement.
             This new structure, I believe, will allow us to bring in people and care for them, which will help us to grow. One of the reasons we've consistently hit the ceiling of 500 or 600 members, is because of administrative and organizational structure. Never forget, God is an administrator and an organizer. 
             You see this going back to the book of Genesis. Administration and organization are not dirty words. Think about where your human body would be without organization and administration.
             Working hand-in-hand with staff, our elders are helping us meet the needs of members, new Christians, and new members, in a more holistic way. Biblically put, we’re able to more effectively partner with God in making disciples of people in his church.
             I am excited about the future of Shiloh.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)
1. I'm sticking with Green Bay and New York.
2. How does Ted Thompson look as a GM now?
3. Read an incredible stat in a book last week. I need to confirm this with another source. The stat? The Dallas Cowboys' defense gave up only two rushing TDs in 1968. That is staggering.
4. I saw TRUE GRIT over the weekend--and really enjoyed it. The star of this edition is the girl, not Rooster Cogburn.
5. Today, I am playing injured. I am prepping for my first colonoscopy tomorrow. Before I finish, I want to say that I unequivocally believe... excuse me... I've got to go....

Monday, January 10, 2011

Another Way to Approach the Book of Revelation

Have you ever read to your kids the “Where’s Waldo” books? (You know, Waldo—the dorky looking guy in nerd glasses that hides out in crowds.) That is how a lot of people approach Revelation. Instead of “Where’s Waldo?” it is, “Where is the Anti-Christ?” Better yet, “Who is the Anti-Christ?”
This approach can be fun. Instead of video games or dungeons and dragons, you can spend your time looking for clues that will allow you to predict the future of the world.
A second approach to Revelation is very basic—prove that those, who practice the first approach, are wrong. Much time and study is spent researching Revelation and history, in order to show that Saddam Hussein is not the Anti-Christ. Of course, the problem with this approach is that often, the agenda is set, not by the text of Revelation, but by those who pursue approach number one. 
A third approach to Revelation is done through historical research. The basic assumption is that the letter was written late in the first century and addressed to hearers confronting problems unique to their time. The hard part is applying what you learn to our lives today.
Now, there are advantages to all three approaches. It is important to consider what Scripture says about the Anti-Christ and the end of the world. It is important to hold those who speak on these things accountable. It is important to know about the original audience and its historical context. However, in addition to these, I wish to propose another approach.
Actually, this approach is not original with me. I received it from conversation with others, the most articulate, of which is a work by Eugene Peterson entitled REVERSED THUNDER. (Indeed, I utilize his efforts and words extensively in this post. Many thanks to him for his insight into Revelation. For a complete list of works, with which I have been in conversation, go to
Another way to approach Revelation is to allow God’s word to expand our view of Him. Revelation affords us the opportunity, yes, Revelation offers us the call, to experience Him on a deeper level.
Revelation it's not simply written to provide us more information on God; it is also written to fire up our imagination about God.
Imagination is not a bad thing. It can be used for bad, like anything good can be, but it is a gift from God. It helps us to see the unseen. Revelation is not only for information, but also for imagination.
We often associate imagination with fiction—with fairy tales. Imagination also traffics in the realm of truth.
Through John’s pen, God wants us to see and feel who Jesus is, what the Kingdom is like, yes, what the future will be like, and, because of all this, what the present is like.
Revelation wakes up our senses. It appeals to our smell, our hearing, our sight, our touch, and even our taste.
Too often, we under-appreciate the gifts that are our senses. Even describing them with pixels and computer screens can evoke bodily sensations. For example, take a break from your computer, grab yourself a shiny, yellow lemon, and take a robust bite. How do you like that taste?
And, I bet while you read those words, your mouth involuntarily secreted more saliva.
What happens when you drive over a part of the highway--by which lays the body of a dead skunk? The kids holler, “Pew, what is that!” Congratulations! You have encountered a dreadful smell that has impacted, perhaps, your entire body. No doubt, though, everyone in the car is experiencing something powerful.
Consider the way the letter of Revelation begins:

1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near (Rev. 1:1-3). NIV

These words are to be read aloud and to be heard. John, in verse twelve states,  I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. God wants us to see the voice.
Mull over for a moment, how Revelation calls for its readers (hearers!) to engage in the five senses: 
1) Hearing.
1.             Revelation 2:7Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
2.             Revelation 2:11Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
3.             Revelation 2:17
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
4.             Revelation 2:29Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
5.             Revelation 3:6
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
6.             Revelation 3:13
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

7.      Revelation 3:22
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
            Forty six times in our NIVs, the text makes a reference to hearing.

 2) Touch.
As you might imagine, the sense of touch appears throughout the letter. Let me cite a reference less obvious.
One of the things I did not realize about the ancient world—numbers were an extension of touch. As you might guess, the ancients, like our children today, initially used their fingers and toes to learn how to count. Consequently, numbers became symbolic because they extended the sense of touch.
In Revelation, numbers direct the imagination in such a way to help us understand the totality of what God is saying. John is accounting for things. The numbers direct our thoughts.
For example, in Revelation 7, the number 144,000 evokes the feeling of the touch of God's action, which produces victory in the face of evil. Deep within the fragmentation of the world lies suffering; the numbering of this massive group of souls of God helps one visualize wholeness, in the midst of fragmentation.
3) Smell.
The sense of smell is associated with prayer. In Revelation 8:3–4, the bowls of incense represent the prayers of the Church. Both can be seen and smelled. 
In the ancient world, smell permeated a person’s entire being. You could not practice it with detachment.
Any of you guys remember a girl you liked years ago? Do you remember a perfume she wore? Have you present day ever smelled someone wearing that perfume, and been emotionally taken back to those days you liked that girl? That is the power of a great fragrance—and the power of the sense of smell. More is involved than your nose.            
It is the same, in Revelation, with prayer and the symbol of incense. Because prayer is invisible, the smell of incense (and the sight) is used to trigger the imagination. The original audience saw, in their mind’s eye, the prayers go up, and the sensation permeated those hearer’s bodies. They experienced it. They experienced God’s presence.
(Right now you might be thinking, “Pff. This is a bunch of 21st century, touchy-feely drivel.” Let me remind you—we are rich and comfortable; we have the luxury of treating Revelation with detachment. However, I assure you, a Christian in China or Sudan will not hear the words of Revelation with such detachment.
Beware, don’t let the blessings of God and your culture make you so prejudice that you prejudge the word of God, harden your heart; thus, not allow those words to penetrate.)
4) Taste.
The sense of taste is an important part of the message. To the seventh church, Laodicea, in Revelation 3:16, Jesus uses strong words. Jesus is talking about the mouth for a reason. Luke-warmness also represents tastelessness.          
Yet, in Revelation 10:9-11, you have the little scroll, which tastes sweet in the mouth and bitter in the stomach.            
5) Seeing.

Revelation 1:11
-- “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

Over and over again in Revelation, God calls for his readers to see.      
Please understand: I am in no way saying we should not study Revelation. I am the king of study. I have a bias toward study. And there are passages in Revelation that call upon the intellect to engage in analysis. However, I have always, exclusively, studied Revelation. The beauty of God engages our entire being, not just our intellect. And, in Revelation, one thing God wants to do is wake us up to hear his Word.
These are not sentences to be diagrammed, verbs to be conjugated, and words to simply be memorized and kept at arms length. There were plenty of scribes and teachers of the Law, who did this during Jesus’ day. They heard the words of Scripture, but they did not hear the voice of God.
What I am saying is, in the midst of analyzing Revelation, we cannot escape the style of literature that we have here. This is not a logical, unemotional, mathematical document, designed to be fought over and not felt.
We do well to remember, to see to it, that Revelation not only penetrates our minds, but it also penetrates our souls. There are some mysteries, when it comes to God, we cannot fully explain, but in some cases, we can enjoy.
As Eugene Peterson noted, of all people, Albert Einstein once said that imagination is more important than intelligence. What he meant by that was, intelligence did nothing unless the person used his imagination (or her imagination) to project what should be done with that intelligence.
The primary purpose of reading Revelation is not to provide new information we never received. Every time someone studies it for that purpose, they come up with ideas that are scary–(the Pope is the antichrist!) Revelation is to connect more with the imaginative part of the mind, not to the analytical part of the mind, and that connection creates a desire for action--a desire to respond to God.            
When we engage the intellect, we are engaging only one part of the person. If we allow a revelation to do so, it engages our senses, that is our total person.                      
The intent of revelation is to put us on her knees before the One, who saw the beginning, who sees the end, and who carries us in the arms of His history in between.         
We bow before God in worship and accept His salvation-shaping words in our lives. We're always trying to use Scripture for our purposes. Maybe, for a change, we should allow scripture to use us.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. In case anyone forgot, I picked Green Bay and the Jets to face each other in the Super Bowl—before the season started.
2. Sunday afternoon was one of the most relaxing I have enjoyed—ever. I think it was because I was prepared to work hard in the office Sunday afternoon, visit some folks, and preach a sermon Sunday night. A beautiful snow forced me to cancel plans and go home to my family for the rest of the day. Geared for effort, I had an enforced excuse to relax with loved ones—a great trade.
3. Evil will always be among us. I was sorry to hear a judge from one political party and a congresswoman from another, were victims of what appears to be pre-conceived violence on Saturday. On top of all of that, people outside of government and political service were hurt and killed as well. My thoughts and prayers go out to all families involved, including that of the perpetrator of this wickedness. 
4. Rest in peace, Lesa Landers Monday. You were a friend from my earliest childhood, and I will take with me many fond memories.
5. Thanks to all who said and wrote so many nice things about our oldest daughter, Haleigh, being honored by her peers as her school’s Homecoming Queen. She, and we, are grateful she received this honor. More importantly, we are grateful for the kindness and goodwill so many have blessed us with over the past few days.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rush to Judgment

I remember, in Argentina, our church normally held a "business" meeting the last Sunday of the month. Usually, we planned to have it at a member’s house.

One month, I wasn't sure who was to host our monthly meeting. The Sunday before we were to meet, we were in a worship service. At the end of the service, I was making the announcements.

I reminded people that we were to meet the following Sunday. I asked if we had decided where we were to meet. (I knew we needed to decide.)

A teammate of mine raised his hand and said that we would decide next Sunday. I thought that sounded strange. Perhaps he didn't understand, so I said, "But we're holding our meeting next Sunday."

He replied, "I know, and we'll decide next Sunday."

Now, I was irritated. His attitude put me off. All afternoon, I thought about calling him and saying, "Look buster, just who do you think you are. Do you want to run things?"

Fortunately, before I called him, he called me to explain what happened. He said, "I was concerned you might have thought what happened this morning sounded weird, so I wanted to explain."

Come to find out, it had been agreed upon the previous month that we would meet in the house of a poorer couple, because the wife had offered their home. The husband had been so embarrassed—since they did not have enough chairs to seat everyone--he didn't want to host the meeting.

My teammate was simply trying to stall for time so we could solve the problem behind the scenes without embarrassing the couple. His explanation made perfect sense.

It was a noble thing my teammate did. I had thought he was being so “horsy”, but he was simply trying to protect someone else.

Things aren't always what they seem. That's why we need to be careful to rush to judgment.

This is one application of what Jesus said in Matt. 7:1-2:

1 "Don't judge others, or you will be judged. 2 You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you….”

Herding Books

How did I spend my vacation? Well, among other things, doing what Larry McMurtry calls herding books.

Our son, Timothy, was quarantined for a couple of days due to strep. I recently purchased the software for organizing one’s possessions called DELICIOUS LIBRARY. Don’t let the name fool you. It organizes CDs, DVDs, closets—and books.

Anyway, my OC kicked in. Rather than totally relaxing, I spent a lot of time reorganizing my library and cataloguing books. 

I know I am Obsessive/ Compulsive because my adrenaline was running so fast, I woke up some mornings at 4:30 or 5. One night, I even dreamed of ways of categorizing the books in my library. I’m not kidding.

That dream did help me overcome a software quirk of DELICIOUS LIBRARY. You cannot force your books to go in the order you want, if it is contrary to the built in guidelines. I wanted my presidential books shelved in the order of their place in history: Washington, first, then John Adams… It wasn’t going to happen with DL. Because of my dream, I figured out that I could list each president in NUMERICAL order, followed by the name. For example: 1. Washington, 2. Adams...

Voila! Problem solved.

I hope this solution makes the Google Alerts feature, a bunch of DL people read it, and DL pays me a consultation fee.

Wait, that’s my next dream.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. I wrote the following at 5:30 PM, yesterday, during the Cowboy-Eagles game, “There is still a lot of talk that there may be an NFL players stoppage in 2011. Funny, I think the Cowboys got a year’s head start. Their players stopped playing a long time ago.”

Boy, was I funny.

I’ve got to take back my words. Sure, the Eagles were playing with more reserves than the Cowboys. Still, I saw the highlights. Winning in the last minute in Philly shows guts. The Cowboys have played hard under Jason Garrett. They may not be as talented as other teams, but I look for Garrett to return next year (if there is a next year!) and for the Cowboys to make the playoffs.

2. The latest KIPLINGER LETTER is on Generation Y. A lot of good data there; maybe the two most interesting items are these:

            (1) Only 24% read the newspapers.
            (2) 25% send more than 50 text messages a day.

3. I wanted to see TRUE GRIT during my vacation. That did not work out. I hear it is good, though.

4. My family and I did see TUCK EVERLASTING. Profound movie. The story takes your imagination and helps you contemplate whether or not life would be good—lived forever on this earth. Hmmm. Maybe God knows what he is doing.

5. I loved watching TCU defeat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. My understanding is the ratings were through the roof. And what good press TCU got! Between baseball and football, TCU is hot.