Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reflections from the Road

Reflections from the Road

During the Summer of 2010 our went on a cross-country family road trip.  During that trip I had a lot of time to drive, think and reflect.  The following are some my thoughts I wrote in the middle of that trip as a Family Life article.

“I have thought about how important it is to have a good map.  We have a large trucker map.  It is easy to read.  It has some good details.  This map in combination with a gps has made finding our way easy.   The map and gps have oriented us and given us the direction we needed.  The Bible does the same for us.  While it is not an exact map of our lives, as we read, study and meditate on the truth, we find in it we find direction.

On this trip we have stopped and visited friends along the way.  It is a long drive across this country and it was really nice to stop at a friend’s house.  It was nice to relax.  It was nice to eat real food.  It was nice to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while.  The community or church we belong too are those friends along the way that help us.  We encourage each other.  We eat together.  We experience life together as we travel down the road of life.

Finally it is important to keep your eyes open and be aware of what is coming at you.  In Kansas City we had to dodge a bouncing tire coming our way down the highway.  If we hadn’t been paying attention our trip would have ended early!  There are distractions out there that cause us to stray from the direction the LORD is calling us to go.  With the help of the Holy Spirit we are able to overcome these distractions and keep our focus where it should be.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Reflections on Exodus: Who is Joseph? Blessing or a Curse (Exodus 1.1-.14

Refelctions on Exodus
Who is Joseph?
Exodus 1.1 - .14
  The Old Testament book of Exodus opens with a  brief overview of the sons of Israel who traveled to Egypt.  We are told that the 70 decedents of Israel in Egypt had grown so that they were so numerous that the land was filled with them.  At the time of Joseph the relationship between the descendants of Israel and the Egyptians were good.
  Somewhere along the way things went bad between the king of Egypt and the Israelites.  A new king did not know Joseph and the fact that Joseph, thru the wisdom of the LORD, helped the nation of Egypt survive and prosper during 7 years of a great famine.  This new king was afraid of the Israelites because he did not know they could be a blessing to him.
  Why did this new king fear the Israelites?  Perhaps they weren’t the blessings to the Egyptians they were called to be anymore.  The LORD made a covenant with the Abraham the father of Israelites.  The LORD promised that Abraham’s descendant would be a blessing to the nations.  If you look at the story of Joseph you see this promise coming true.  By relying on the wisdom of the LORD Joseph was a blessing.
  But if Joseph hadn't relied on the LORD, he would have become a curse.  We see this in the lives of Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.  When they try to do things on their own they cause more trouble than good to those around them.  So here is my question to you are you a blessing to those around you or are you a curse.  Do you rely on the wisdom of the LORD and live a life accord to the pattern we see in his Son Jesus Christ? Or do you ignore the LORD and try to make it on your own?  If you are trying to do it yourself you will end up being a curse to those around you but if you rely on the LORD you will be a blessing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reflections: Genesis, Jacob Blesses His Boys (Genesis 48.1-49.28)

Reflections: Genesis, Jacob Blesses His Boys
Genesis 48.1 - 49.28

Decades after stealing the blessing from his own father, Jacob, now at the end of his life, calls his 12 own boys to him to receive a blessing. His boys are all grown men with families of their own.  They have had a bumpy history between the 12 of them.  Some of them have hated and envied each other.  While others were close friends and allies.  Jacob, now know as Israel, has had a long time to observe his boys and think about the best way to bless each of them individually.  In fact the author of Genesis tells us that He gave “each the blessing appropriate to him.” (Genesis 49.28)

Each blessing Israel gives is appropriate for each individual man and his descendants.  He must have carefully considered the lives of each of his boys and then carefully decided how to bless them.  If you read the blessings for yourself you will see that they are unique and seem to fit the lives each of them lived and their tribes will live.

As most of you know I am a big fan of parents blessing their children at important transitional times of their lives.  At each Graduate Dinner/Banquet or Senior Sunday I have planned, the parents have blessed their son or daughter.  No two of these have been the same and each has been appropriate for the graduate.  The key for us as parents is to know our children.  See them for who they truly are and not who we want them to be.  The blessings we bestow on our children should guide them in life and strengthen them as they follow Jesus.

My challenge to you is to spend some time this week thinking and meditating on how you are blessing your children each and every day of their lives.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Reflections: Joseph Genesis 37 - 45

Reflections: Joseph Genesis 37 - 45

Have you ever wanted to just quit?

Have you ever just wanted to give up?

Has life ever just gotten you so down you were done?

Has your job, family or school just pushed you so far over the edge you just wanted to stop?

We have all been there or we will all be there.  You are not alone.

Life is hard.  Anyone who says different is lying or trying to sell you something.  The LORD never said life would be easy.  Jesus never promised us an easy life.  But we should not give up hope.

Look at Joseph.  He has so many opportunities to say “That’s it I give up.”  or “I have followed the LORD all my life and this is what I get in return.  I quit!”  When his brothers threw him in a well and planned to kill him.  When they sold him into slavery.  When he was purchased by Potiphar.  When he went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit.  When he helped Pharaoh's cup bearer but then was forgotten by the same man.  These were all chances for Joseph to walk away from a god who seemed to make things worse than better.

But he doesn’t let go of the LORD and the LORD doesn’t let go of Joseph.  The LORD in the end turns out to the the GOD who takes the horribleness of life and redeems it into something beautiful.

Reflect on that.

I know life is not easy.  I know it is not easy following Jesus.  I know hat in spite of this following Jesus and holding onto the life he calls us to is better than anything our culture has to offer.  By not giving up on God we are blessed today, tomorrow and in the age to come.

Monday, June 03, 2013

My Thoughts on Boy Scouts Recent Membership Changes

Please Note: I have sat on this for over a week it has been thru several revisions and I feel it best communicates my thoughts, feelings and future actions on this subject.  I did not write this with a light heart but it is the product of much thought, reflection and prayer.  I would remind everyone the the Boy Scout Law asks us to be friendly, courteous and kind more importantly the LORD asks us to act out of self-control and love.


With the Boy Scouts of America changing its membership policy to allow openly gay children and teens to be members I felt it was time for me to express my thoughts on this subject. (Boy Scouts of America Statement)

My position is complicated and not black and white.

First I feel that Boy Scouts is for the boys.  In a Boy Scout troop the boys are the ones who should be learning, growing, leading and planning the activities of the troop.  In a Cub Scout pack the adults should be planning activities that are fun, challenging and interesting for the boys.  As adults we should not be reliving past triumphs through our boys.  As adults we should not be trying to complete unfinished childhood dreams through our boys.  As adults we should not push our political agendas through our boys.  The program is centered around the boys not the adults.

Second, churches may charter Cub Scout Packs and Boy Scout Troops but the Boy Scouts of America is not a religious institution.  Boy Scouts of America supports the need for faith in a boys life but it does not specify the faith a boy is to have.  BSA leaves religious training and discipleship to the families and religious organizations.  BSA supports the importance of faith and religion in the lives of boys and young men but is not one of the primary teachers/instructors of religious beliefs or behaviors.

Third, sexuality is complicated.  A boy can expresses his masculinity in a number of healthy and unhealthy ways.  Our culture has corrupted these expressions and sexualized them.  The LORD’s plan for sex is not complicated.  It is clear from the beginning that sex is to between a woman and her husband.  Sexual activity outside of this covenant relationship is outside of the LORD’s plan and a sin.  This includes heterosexual and homosexual activity.  (For more on my thoughts on sexuality look in my archives)

Forth, I feel a the change was a good compromise.  As I said earlier Cub/Boy Scouts is for the boys.  Every boy who wants to be a scout should have the opportunity to be a scout.

Finally on a personal level, I do not plan on leaving Cub/Boy Scouts nor do I plan on pulling my boys out of scouting.  It is an extracurricular activity my boys enjoy.  Just like swim team it is an area where they can learn new skills and succeed.  I have told both my boys that I will support them and help them go as far as they want.  I will be proud of them no matter how far they go in scouting.  However, I have had to rethink my own roll in scouting.  About 2 years ago I submitted an application to be a chaplain this Summer at the Jamboree.  After much prayer and thought I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience represent BSA as a religious leader.  I withdrew my application.  I could not balance my roll as a full-time youth minister and a chaplain.  I can still volunteer in many ways to help either the Cub Scout Pack or Boy Scout Troop just as I do at the kids schools or for swim team.

It is clear that the BSA leadership was not able to handle this in a way they wanted.  It is clear that it will take a few years for the dust to settle.  Some will leave scouting and start their own groups.  Others who stayed away from scouting may join.

Whether this change will strengthen or weaken Boy Scouts is still to be seen.