Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Difference Deference

ToMAYto. ToMAHto.

Difference. Deference.

God made me me. He made you you. He does nothing by accident. He makes no mistakes. Differences are His design. Without them a sad sameness world it would be.

Differences teach us. We do not need to homogenize our differences. We do need awareness where our differences may be an offense or threat to others. Christlike love compels me to humbly temper my differences in deference to others. I seek to honor others above myself. I strive to love others as I do myself.

Differences teach us. Awareness. Humility. Ourselves. Communication. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Cooperation. Variety. Unity. Functioning together as the Body of Christ.

I can do the relational math.

Different + different = bad deal.

Different + different = disturbingly difficult.

Or, as a Christ follower, the same equation comes out... different.

Different + different = God’s design.

Different + different = mutually beneficial.

A symphony has different instruments playing different parts in one composition led by one conductor. Differences are unified. Each instrument playing it's own part in it's own time. At other times that instrument is silent in deference to others.

A good meal has different dishes with different ingredients coming together to be pleasing as whole. Chili powder, caustic alone, is tasty when combined into the dish that bears it's name. Sugar, tasty alone, is even better when combined with other ingredients to bake your favorite desserts.

A human body has different parts with different functions that work together as a unified whole. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Verse 12 states, "The body is a unit, though it is make up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ."

Rather than complain or ignore or avoid differences - particularly within local church bodies - let us celebrate & appreciate & embrace differences. Differences are God's gifts to be used to bring glory to His name & growth to His Kingdom.

It takes maturity. It takes humility. It takes deference.

It offers unity. It offers peace. It offers joy.

Difference deference.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Longer Shorter

Al-mooooooos-t home. Same way I drive home from church all the time. 6.3 miles. East on Highway 2. South on 56th. East on Cavvy. South on 59th. 6.3 miles. Yet. Since I've been gone for two long days. Didn't sleep well either of the past two nights. Ate too much while visiting with colleagues. And road weary from all the miles. These last miles seem longer the shorter the distance is to home. Longer shorter.

On my mind. Near a year ago now I lost a good friend. A man who I respected like few. A man who held the admiration of all. A man of character. A man who fought cancer for months. And won. Relocating to a mansion on a street of gold. Yet. It was tough to see him go. His passing came slowly. The days seemed longer the closer he got to his eternal home. Longer shorter.

Thoughts now of a my last marathon. Absent here so far. 26.2 miles. Fort Worth Cowtown Marathon. Same race that I'd run a year previous. A hilly course, but much, much better weather this year. Yet. I was undertrained. Too few miles those months before. Too little consistency as well. Too fast on my first half. Too spent on the second. Those last miles. Those last few miles. Seemed so much longer the closer I got to the finish line. Longer shorter.

Longer shorter is not real.

It just seems real.

Road weary. Sickness weary. Race weary.


But ready to be welcomed. Ready to be at the end of the road. End of the earthly journey. End of the race.


But expectant of things to come.

That expectation. That makes longer shorter.

Would that I live each day as a gift with the urgency of eternity pressing me to live every moment fully here.

Longer shorter.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Bother?

A caffè latte is an espresso made with steamed milk, topped by foamed milk. The latte is the most popular espresso drink. As such, the latte has lots of jargonized options.

Some folks avoid coffee shops due to cost. Others due to spousal promises of caffeine avoidance. But some folks, like me, avoid them for fear of the the vocabulary. You gotta speak coffeese.

One such coffeese named latte came to mind while reading this morning. But I wasn't drinking one. Nor was I dreaming of one in caffeine withdrawals. I was reading, remember?

It is called a "Why Bother." A decaf, sugar free, nonfat latte.

Yes. Why bother? You just removed all the best reasons for drinking it! The caffeine, sugar & fat. All gone. What have you got left?

Why Bother latte? Because you can.

Why bother Jesus? Because he can.

Mark 4:35-5:43 is a potent story trio with one purpose: displaying Jesus' awesome power. Jesus' power over nature, 4:35-41, calming the storm. Jesus' power over evil, 5:1-20, casting out the legion of demons. And, here in 5:21-43, Jesus' power over sickness & death.

Jairus, a synagogue ruler with a dying daughter, falls down pleading before Jesus. "Please come & put your hands on her so that she will be healed." I am a Daddy who loves his little girl. I've got welly eyes & a lumpy throat as I feel this.

Jesus went with Jairus. Jairus hoped in Jesus.

But then, a woman, a woman with an issue of blood catches Jesus' attention along the way. The woman is healed. But Jairus' daughter dies.

Bad news bearers ask, "Why bother the teacher any more?," in verse 35.

Why bother?

Dead is dead.

Dead is final.

Jesus might have healed her while alive.

Now she is dead.

Jesus can not have that sort of power.

Why bother?

But. Thanks be to God, Jesus is more powerful than earthly anything even faithless anyones.

Goes verse 36, "Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, 'Don't be afraid. Just believe.'" The little girl was raised from the dead.

Why bother?

Because Jesus can.

(All Scriptures references NIV.)


With a gleeful snicker, most any kindergartener can demonstrate their newly acquired alphabetic ability to an unzipped friend, “XYZ.”

You might have been the embarrassed-and-hopefully-not-scarred-for-eternity recipient. Or you could have been the thinking-you-were-clever-and-glad-it-wasn’t-you deliverer of the phrase. XYZ.

Examine. Your. Zipper.

As adults we may still use the phrase. We may still snicker. Or be embarrassed. Depending on which end of the phrase we are on.

How about a new phrase that more often & more seriously applies to adults? XYV.

Examine. Your. Values.

Just as the downed zipper may expose the garments we think are guarded, so too do our words, or lack of, & our actions, or lack of, speak of our values.

No matter what you say.

No matter what you do.

Your values are showing.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Dawn follows the once stormy then miraculously calm night of my last post. Jesus has crossed the Sea of Galilee west to east for his first mission into Gentile territory. Reference Mark 5:1-20. Immediately upon landing he is confronted by a demon possessed man. So violent was this man, he’d been known to cut himself & shriek uncontrollably. So strong that chains & fetters couldn’t hold him. So problematic he’d been driven to live among the dead in cave tombs rather than in town or a village.

Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many."

Legion. That was 6000+ Roman soldiers. This man was possessed by more demons than could be counted.

Demons, speaking through the man, ask Jesus to be merciful enough to allow them to be sent into a herd of pigs nearby. About 2000 of them. Jesus allows this. Then, explainable only by the desire to cause harm to some incarnate being, the demons rush the pigs down the steep bank to drown.

Herdsmen run to spread the news. The returning crowd sees the restored man sitting calmly & clothed. “They were afraid,” Mark 5:15 states. They ask Jesus to leave their region.

Formerly fearful of the formerly fearsome demon possessed man. Now fearful of The Man possessing the power to cast out demons.

Their fear is stated.

Their care is not.

It may appear that they cared more for the pigs than they did for their newly freed neighbor. I was just about to write about that. But. The Bible makes no statement of it & we can not know what they were thinking. We can know what we would be thinking.

If those were my pigs & that frightening fella & some Jewish miracle worker from across the Sea had caused it, I know who I’d be mad at. I’d think my first reaction would be anger. My pigs. My property. Gone. And for what? The chain-breaking menace? The shrieking nuisance? So this Jewish preacher guy could display some crazy power?

If so…

I’d need to ask the forgiveness of the Jewish Preacher with crazy power. I care more for pigs than a person. Yes, the financial loss is real, but the restored man is, well, unreal. And does it make a difference whether it’s two pigs of 2000? Just mine or my friends’ too? Or should the soul of another person be worth much more to me. A man is free. Clothed. Peaceful. A miracle has occurred.

What legions haunt the souls I know? What habits possess? What sins control?

Who has power to cast them out? What is that worth?