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

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More Than a Name

Names used to have meaning. Not so much anymore.

My first name, Clinton, apparently derives from a surname which referred to the original name-sake’s hometown. This, of course, was not what my parents intended when they named me. And, no, I was not named after Bill or any other politician. What my parents wanted was a relatively unique name that wasn’t so crazy that I would get beat up every day in school. They weren’t concerned with the meaning of the name, but mostly with how it sounded, and if they would get tired of yelling it (they most likely did).

On the other hand, many biblical characters have names with meaning. Continue reading

Collecting, part 2

Warren Moon trading cardsI collected sports trading cards for three main reasons: 1) because that was what cool kids did; 2) because they looked neat; 3) because I hoped to strike it rich (would you call that gambling?).

I did not collect sports trading cards for particularly good reasons: 1) for the love of sports; 2) out of admiration and respect for particular players; 3) as an investment in my future grandkids’ retirement.

I have discovered that I, and many other human beings, have a similar problem in other areas of life. We collect “beliefs,” “philosophies,” and even “doctrine” and “theologies.” And we often collect them in the wrong way for the wrong reasons.

I used to tell other kids at school that I didn’t go to dances because “it was against my religion.” Continue reading

Collecting, part 1

Warren Moon trading cardsI grew up in a small town in Colorado that is not small any more. When it was small, and so was I, Mom would sometimes let my brother and me ride our bikes downtown. We lived in a fairly typical subdivision about a mile from Main Street with its black, five-globed lampposts, and the shopping center where the grocery store and a variety of other local businesses shared a parking lot.

Once I was sent on an errand, all by myself, to the little vacuum shop to buy some vacuum bags. Mom gave me a signed check with the name of the store already written on the “Pay to the order of” line, and then she taught me how to fill out the little box and write out the price. The man at the vacuum shop was happy to help, too.

What I really liked to do, though, was to ride down to the trading card shop. Continue reading

The Heart of the Gospel, part 2

So, salvation by faith is a wonderfully free gift from God that we cannot earn. It is not based on how well we keep or understand God’s laws, but on our desire to serve Him, and our trust in His ability. “God looks on the heart,” just as He told Samuel thousands of years ago.

It would still be nice to have that list, to know exactly what I need to do to be saved. Actually, when wanting a list it is more likely that what I am really looking for is how little I can do to be saved. That’s probably one major reason that a list is not the point.

However, Jesus spoke to us regarding salvation on a human, list-seeking, law-keeping level. He gave us a list. Continue reading

The Heart of the Gospel, part 1

Salvation by faith is hard for us to fully accept. It’s rather ridiculous, really. Surely God would want more than that. There has got to be a list of rules or a quota of good deeds to fill or something quantifiable to distinguish the good people from the bad, the saved from the lost.

But, that’s not the way it works, and that is hard to accept. Continue reading

Afraid of Law

A lot of people seem to have a certain distrust of, or even dislike for, law enforcement. Of course, people who get in trouble with the law have their reasons, but even “law-abiding” citizens often react negatively to the well-hidden patrolman who sits by the highway with a radar gun. Many feel somehow cheated when they see those tricky officers in their unmarked cruisers.

I think it is fear. Continue reading

Average Expectations

US SoccerI LOVE soccer! And the biggest soccer event (arguably the biggest sports event) in the world is approaching. World Cup 2010 in South Africa begins June 11th.

I have an interesting, conflicting, inner relationship with the US soccer team. I want to cheer for them. I want them to go far in the tournament, to prove that US soccer can compete with the great soccer powers of the world. It would be incredible if they won the Cup.

But, I just don’t think that will all happen…at least not this year.  I suppose you could say I just don’t have enough faith in our guys.

And I have to admit I am guilty of the same problem when it comes to God and His church.  My expectations are often way too low. Continue reading

How does your garden grow?

The Howards' attempt at ridding the world of hunger.Sara and I planted a vegetable garden this year. It’s nothing too big, and nothing all that fancy, either, although we’re working on it. We decided to try “square foot gardening” in raised boxes. We mixed our own soil from peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. We laid down soaker hoses to make watering easier and more efficient. We put a pvc frame over one box (so far), and wrapped netting over it to keep the birds and beasts out. And we have checked our garden nearly every day to see that things are growing, and to make sure and get the weeds out (and the massive amounts of maple seeds that have been dropping from the silver maple tree about forty feet away).

And here is what we have learned so far:
We are not all that patient. Continue reading