Garden first, house second

The tomato seeds are still sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting to be planted. Here it is, way past the last expected frost date, and all the genetic material for juicy deliciousness is still in the form of tiny round, dry discs in paper packets.

This has been a busy spring for — it seems — everything BUT gardening. The delays in planting were begun in February, when a bad case of bronchitis set in. Given the choice of scrumptious heirloom tomatoes and continuing the privilege of breathing, I chose the latter. Continue reading “Garden first, house second”

True north: finding a reliable path forward

A compass points toward the earth’s magnetic north. However, the true geographic north pole lies several hundreds of miles away.

Kenny, a friend of mine, recently told me about an international trip where his flight passed between the North Pole and magnetic north. At such a place, if someone were to use a compass to locate the geographic north pole it would point in the exact opposite direction! If we can assume the compass would even function.

To accurately use a compass to discover true north, you must also know your latitude. In other words, to navigate the earth requires both good instruments and the knowledge about how to use them well. For the church to reliably chart its path through difficult scenarios requires understanding how to use well the tools God has supplied for his people. In 1 Corinthians, Paul tackled a rough situation by providing some of these reliable tools for the journey. Continue reading “True north: finding a reliable path forward”

The church split

Imagine my surprise while eating lunch at a table filled with preachers to hear one fellow brag to another about how many church splits he had instigated.  I was horrified. As far as I was concerned, such an acknowledgement should be an embarrassment.

It does not take too much insight to understand how he thought, even though I have never experienced a church split. I wonder how deeply he considered the following observations and antidotes before triggering each division. Continue reading “The church split”

Our fears expose our idols

Fears abound. What if the stock market crashes? What if my career does not progress further? What if they do not like me? What if I lose “it”?

Since secular people consider themselves to have moved beyond superstitious idolatry, to assert that many contemporary fears are birthed in idolatry might sound oxymoronic. Yet, when we understand how idols function, the correlation is obvious. Fortunately, jettisoning idols along with their fears leads toward obtaining the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Continue reading “Our fears expose our idols”

Inner lamp focus

If we pause long enough to take inventory of our lives, why get up in the morning? What drives our lives? Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is both frank and realistic. People embody different answers.

Whatever driving force might guide our life, Jesus called it our “lamp.” He then drilled down into the profound significance of how our lamp impacts us.  Isn’t that just like him?
Continue reading “Inner lamp focus”

Where your treasure is

“Did you know what an oddball you are?” This was a rhetorical question posed by a close friend when I told her of my plans for the day.

I had several tasks that needed to be done, but the morning was cool and cloudy — perfect weather for working in the garden. Additionally, we had been blessed with some rain the day before, which makes the hard clay soil much more workable. The temptation to spend the entire day outside seemed overwhelming to me. Continue reading “Where your treasure is”

Sophisticated and astute

Want to crush someone’s handling of a delicate question? Label the response as being unsophisticated. Wish to elevate a person? Praise his or her navigation through a mine field as being socially astute.

Just how much value do we assign to pleasing everyone? Christians are exhorted to speak the truth in love. But what should a Christian do when real social, economic or other practical consequences might result from failing to bend the truth?

Continue reading “Sophisticated and astute”