Space Flight, and Other Things We Take for Granted

I was four when the Challenger space shuttle exploded during launch. I vaguely remember hearing the news. I don’t remember hearing Reagan’s speech.

I wasn’t even close to being born in the Apollo 11 era, or even during the Apollo 13 crisis. I saw the movie, though.

I do, of course, remember the Columbia tragedy eight years ago, though I am not sure if I watched George W.’s address. Right now, I am watching Discovery as it sits on the runway following a successful mission and landing, and all the support trucks and vans lining up to remove the crew from their vessel. Continue reading

Truly Christian, part 3

Slavery. What an incredibly inhumane concept. What kind of pride does it take to believe that you can own another human being? Of all the awful sins of humanity, this should rank near the top of the list.

The Bible, however, with all of its condemnation of sin and prohibition of inhumane activities, seems to say little against the practice of slavery. Actually, I am no longer convinced that that is true. Especially after studying Philemon, I am now persuaded that the Bible says plenty to condemn slavery, just not in ways we expect. Continue reading

Obedience: Without Being Told

Clean up your room If I had a nickel for every time this Berenstain Bears scene played out in our home growing up (only my brother didn’t usually wear pink…). “Clean your room” were probably three of the most common words from our mother’s mouth. Though, a close second would be the three words she often shouted as she held a raised wooden spoon in her right hand: “Move your hands!”

In any case, we eventually learned that if we obeyed the first three words we could avoid the second three. Not that we always did, but at least we learned cause and effect. Continue reading

Tune Our Hearts, part 2

Read other articles in this series: part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

David had a heart for his God. So, when David realized that he lived in a beautiful palace while God’s house was a tent, he felt guilty. He wanted to build God a proper house. And, God said, “Okay. But, you won’t build it. Your son will.”

In 1Chronicles 25, David arranges 4,000 of the Levites into singers and musicians to serve as a temple choir. This is a little surprising because in all of the instructions about worship in the tabernacle, God gave no legislation concerning musical worship.

God kept David in the loop, though. Continue reading

Truly Christian, part 1

I just finished preaching a series of sermons on Paul’s little letter to Philemon, and I have a new respect for Paul.

Behind the letter is the crazy story of Onesimus, a slave, who has run away from his master, Philemon. In the process, he has disrespected Philemon’s authority, stolen from him, but he has also met Paul. Whether Onesimus sought out Paul, or God sought out Onesimus is not immediately clear from the letter, but an interesting twist evolves in the story when the slave finds the apostle: Onesimus becomes a Christian. Continue reading

Preconceived Notions

Several years ago, I had a friendly but intense conversation with a gentleman about the nature of God. He didn’t believe in the concept of the Trinity, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all God. We spent some time discussing the most common scripture references that seem to have something to say on the subject. After our discussion had moved quickly through several of these scriptures, and the weight of the conversation was on him to explain his position, he made a comment that I have not forgotten, though most of the rest of the discussion has slipped from my mind. He said something like this, “You know, the idea that God is three persons always bothered me even before I became convinced of my view.”

More recently, I had another conversation with a young man who says he doesn’t believe that Christians should meet every Sunday as we do today. Continue reading

Lying for God

A preying mantis offers directions.

The Bible presents some interesting dilemmas, like the mystery of how Noah and his family managed to stay sane and uneaten while spending over a year cooped up on a boat with their floating zoo.

The book of Joshua, specifically, invites some difficult questions.  Why did God tell Israel to kill all the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, even the children?  Why did he tell them to inhabit the land west of the Jordan, but then allowed the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh to settle on the eastern bank?  If the sun stood still for a whole day, then did the earth stop rotating?

But, the nagging question I have from Joshua that burrowed itself into my mind quite some time ago has to do with Rahab hiding the spies.  Perhaps you have the same question, too.  Was Rahab’s lie right or wrong? Continue reading

I Don’t Feel Rich

Roman CoinBeing rich is a relative sort of thing. If I live in Small Town, USA, make $35,000 a year, but can buy a decent house in a decent neighborhood for $60,000 I may have as much discretionary income left-over as someone living in Big City, USA making $100,000 a year, but limited to expensive housing options (or a very long, expensive commute).

At least, that’s my reaction when I hear people say that living in the States automatically identifies us as rich compared to the rest of the world. Continue reading

Generations

Sociologists say that generations are defined by important or traumatic events. The Great Depression. World War II. Civil Rights. Vietnam. JFK’s Assassination. The Challenger Explosion.

They say the defining event of my generation is 9/11. They say that this has had a heavy hand in molding my contemporaries and me into what makes us different from our parents. Though our parents experienced it they responded to it differently, having a history of other formative events to influence their reaction.

But, I do not want to be defined by 9/11. I do not want to be afraid to fly. I do not want to be cynical and nihilistic. I do not want to be prejudiced. Continue reading