Friday, December 28, 2012

A Child-like Wonder Before God

                With 2 sons that are now 4 and 1 years old, Christmas has become even more fun the past few years.  Arinne and I were both battling a touch of the flu this year, but Christmas morning was still the most fun I can remember having in a long time, and it was a family memory that Arinne and I already treasure.  On opening each gift, we got to watch the boys give an expression of pure joy, followed by 10 minutes or so of playing, before we had to remind them that there were still more gifts to open!   It took so long that we even had to pause and eat breakfast (cinnamon rolls from Sherry Hulen – thanks Sherry!) before finishing the gift opening.  But we were in no hurry; the boys were great, and seeing them have such fun was simply an absolute joy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Lesson in Searching for Hope

            It’s been a tough week for the whole country, it seems.  The elementary school shooting in Connecticut, with so many young lives taken senselessly, brings all sorts of emotions to the surface.  And it brings questions as well.  The moments right after tragedy, however, never seem like the appropriate time to respond to the skeptics who seem to think that every calamity is another argument against God’s existence.  That discussion should be reserved for another time, one that won’t distract from the deep hurt being experienced by the families involved.  But these moments after tragedy do seem like an appropriate time to ask questions about faith’s response to devastating situations like this one.

            One of the places where I believe we see faith’s response to tragedy is the end of the book of 2 Kings.  It’s a strange ending, but it’s one I’ve come to believe shows us an important characteristic of life lived with God.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ten-Year Anniversary Reflections

                Today is December 13th, a day which means a lot to Arinne and I.  Which is funny to think about, because for almost 25 years of my life December 13th only meant that we were getting close to Christmas.  But in 2002, December 13th took on a new meaning, because that’s the day Arinne and I were married, on a Friday night in Benton, KY, with snow falling outside the Walnut Grove Church of Christ building.

Which makes today our 10-year anniversary! 

We hope to celebrate a bit – probably something simple like going to a nicer-than-usual restaurant and then hanging out at Barnes and Noble while someone watches the boys for us.  And we always like to spend some time reflecting on our lives and marriage, which seems like a good anniversary-type thing to do.  So I’d like to use this week’s blog thoughts to get a head start on reflecting.  I’ll save the more personal  reflecting for tonight’s conversations (where we’ve lived, our favorite times, what our hopes and dreams are, etc).  But as Christians, we hopefully grow to view everything through the lens of faith and God, so I’d like to reflect a bit on what my 10-year anniversary reminds me from a faith perspective. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My friend Serge Shoemaker asked me to write an article of "The Purpose of Prayer," for a publication they send out to their community in Dyersburg, TN.   (And he was gracious enough to let me turn it in a week later than we planned, since i was finishing up my paper for school last week!)  It helped me reflect on some things and clarify them in my own mind, so for this week's blog post, i thought i would share the article, and hope it's encouraging to our prayer lives...

The Transformative Power of Prayer

            God wants His people to be people of prayer.  Christians are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).  We should “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).  Jesus taught His disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1-4), taught them to be persistent in prayer (Luke 18:1-8), and even showed in His own life an example of constant prayer (Luke 5:16).  God wants prayer to be a significant part of our lives!
But we sometimes ask a deeper question: WHY does God want us to pray?
Doesn’t God already know what I need and what the best plan is?  Yes He does, and yes He does.  The God who created all things knows all things, and “even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it all” (Psalm 139:4).  Even Jesus admitted, when talking about prayer, that “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8).  Yet Jesus did not say this as a discouragement to prayer, but rather as an encouragement to pray with the right motives and goals (to be pleasing to God, not to be heard by men).  So, if God already knows what we need, and yet God still wants us to pray, WHY does He want us to pray?