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June 2007

May 2007 entries

Cut to the Chase

Every expert on communication will tell you that people today want the Reader's Digest version of what you have to say or to sell. Comments like "just cut to the chase" or "give me the low-down" usually interrupt any sales pitch or long story. So why is it that movies get longer and longer? I just went to see the latest in the saga of Capt. Jack Sparrow. Special effects were great. Characters outstanding. But when the editing was finished I'll guess you could have eaten off the cutting room floor. (I know that is an archaic term in the age of digital motion pictures but you get my drift.) The scene where they are fighting while spinning in the maelstrom could have been half as long and would have produced a product with twice the impact. Instead of wondering who would have their heart cut out I began to consider the option myself, figuratively of course.

I spiritualize everything of course. So sitting there in the movie theater I began to empathize with my listeners who sit patiently while I wax eloquent about the building material for the tabernacle. I began to wonder if all those trips to the bathroom each Lord's Day is to empty the bladder or to send me a signal that the mind can only absorb as much as the behind can endure. So I sat while waiting for someone to fill Davey Jone's locker with their own heart once removed and made a pledge to my hearers this Sunday. I will not be "heartless" (pardon the pun) and leave them wanting to leave more than wanting to hear week.   

Living Between Two Worlds

This morning was a sobering reminder of the violent world we live in. The first story I heard on the radio while shaving was about the body of an American soldier found floating in the river about 40 miles south of Baghdad. He had been shot in the head and in the chest. This followed the news that a day before a young man from Ooltewah, a small town near Chatanooga, was killed in an explosion in Iraq along with his fellow soldiers. Sitting safely in my office it seems impossible that these soldiers and myself live in the same world. But it is precisely because of the sacrifice the soldiers who died this week and for countless weeks before that such a chasm exists between me and the violent world in which they serve. This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. Let's remember as we gather to worship and thank God for our freedom the awful price that has been paid so we can celebrate. My prayer is that we ignore religious and political differences long enough to remember and not critique, to celebrate and not demonstrate, to be thankful and not complain. As one who never faced an angry enemy at the end of a rifle or never tried to sleep while mortar shells rained down over head, I am eternally grateful for everyone who has. PEACE!      

Where There's Smoke There's Fire

I've just returned home from a few days away with some of the staff and their families. We hung out at a place called Savannah Georgia. What a great city! it is full of history and great restaurants. If you have those two elements then in my opinion you have a great destination. Adding to the great atmosphere was the fact that all four days were just glorious weather-wise. It was a little warm but the breeze kept you cool and made it difficult for the "no-see um's" to take a bite out of your exposed skin. I love boats of any size and it just so happened that Marilyn and I were twelve floors above the Savannah River. It is one of the busiest ports in the world with the longest dock in America. Ninety-five percent of all the ships in the world are able to come up the river seventeen miles and load or unload before entering the open ocean again. I watched some of the biggest container ships I have ever seen pass so close by my room that they almost blocked out the view of River Street just across the river.

We left Savannah early Thursday morning after 4 days of beautiful weather. There were no clouds that morning either but neither was there any sunshine. The morning was eerily dark and the sun just could not burn through the fog. That was because it was not fog at all, it was smoke. No Savannah wasn't on fire, Florida was. Miles and miles south of Savannah wildfires raged out of control. The same wind that was keeping us cool was keeping the firefighters frustrated. It was more than hour before we were able to clear the smoke driving over seventy miles an hour away from it's source. While there was no fire within one hundred miles there was no one that doubted it's existence. There were clues in the air and in your lungs that something was burning somewhere. While the smoke was annoying and unhealthy no one was fighting the smoke. Hundreds of miles south of us men and women were risking their lives fighting the cause of the smoke, but no one suggested any plan to eradicate the air born irritant. That's because fire fighters are intelligent enough to know that where there is fire there will be smoke.

Now if churches and the Christians that make up churches would just take a lesson from the fire fighters. We often fight against the smoke and ignore the fire. We worry about what people wear, what they smoke (pardon the pun), what they drink or what they chew. Many of these things can certainly bring them harm, but they are not the problem. A good fireman knows if you put out the fire eventually the smoke will dissipate as well. The fire in men and women's lives is sin. The smoke is just the product of something burning inside. Yet, so often we preach and teach fiery sermons (again, an inadvertent pun) against the smoke in people's lives. Where there is fire there will be smoke and when people are estranged from their creator there will be sin. So rather than beating people up about the effects of sin in their lives why don't use the method of the fire fighter? Let's introduce them to the One Who can put out the flame.            


Spiritual if not Christian

It is my favorite time of year. Hot! I like warm weather. No, I like hot weather. I just got off the motorcycle and there is nothing like the smell of 1832 cc's heating up the oil in the crankcase while cruising on hot asphalt. Arhh, Arhh, Arhh...This weather also reminds of some of the only positive memories I have of my childhood. Summertime was the season of no school and vacations to the Gulf coast. So hot weather reminds me of a time of "no worries" and time off. That's why I am psyched about tomorrow. Tomorrow my wife and I head south to Savannah, GA. Yeah, baby, that's what I'm talking about.

Savannah has an additional attraction to me besides it is far enough away to relax. It combines leisure with adventure. Savannah happens to boast that it is the most haunted city in America. It is an extremely spiritual city. It is not always very Christian, but it is very spiritual and that fascinates me. It fascinates me because it is a microcosim of what I believe our society to be like. Many Christian leaders have declered that America is somehow post-spiritual. They blame that lack of spiritality on the decline of many main-line denomintions. I disagree. People in America are tremendously spiritual, they are just not largely Christian. Many of the seekers of spirituality have tried the Christian church and have found it to be lacking spiritual power. Sadly, they are accurate in many cases. We are afraid of being overly-spiritual. The overly-spiritual churches, seekers have found, are more worldly often than their less spiritual counterparts. The reason is they have trumped up spiritual acrobatics to get a sense of spiritual empowerment or as a sign that God is really present in their services. In most cases, The Holy Spirit may not be present at all. It is like smoke without fire. There's no energy in smoke and there is no Spirit in many spiritual churches.

People in Savannah are tremendously interested in the "supernatural." Most of the bookstores are replete with manuscripts on the occult. Ghost tours are given nightly to curious tourists. I even get wrapped up in the atmosphere to a certain degree while I am there. There is a creepiness in the air as the sun goes down over the old part of the city. It sends a shiver up your spine as you walk by an ancient graveyard at night. I'm alright with that. I like to get a little scared myself. I am a spiritual person as well as the citizens of Savannah. I am also a follower of Christ as are many of them. And when the shadows are replaced by the morning sun I know that my Savior is still the dispeler of the darkness. So off we head to a few days away from the business and the "busyness" of church work. GOD BLESS!

Pastor Ken            

Insight on a Tragic Story

Front_porch_pictures_004 I just had a converasation with someone who knew the family who tragically lost the child this week by being left in a hot car. If you were to listen to some of the pundits on talk radio you would picture this father as a monster. I heard that he "should fry" or "made to pay" for his actions. Talking with the man whose wife knew the family very well he told me there was never a more ideal family. They often took family vacations together and both mom and dad dearly loved their children. We are quick to cast stones and to assign blame. Sure, this father is to blame for this tragic event, and no one knows that better than himself. I imagine the proposed penalties, including castration, I have heard from those who do not know the family would be a drop in the bucket compared to the pain this father is already suffering. There will never be a day go by that his mistake will not haunt him. I know that this opinion will be shared by all. Grace is a hard thing to swallow, but right now that is exactly what this man needs the most.

In His Shadow,

Pastor Ken   

I've Moved

This is just a quick note to let you know that I have moved blog sites. It should be seamless to you the reader since it will still be linked to the homepage. This new blog site will allow me to more easily share with you things like books I am reading and othe blogs that you can link from my site. Be patient with my efforts. Now the options exceed my ability to use them. It's kind of like a 16 year old behind the wheel of a twin turbo Porsche, the machine is capable but the operator can only take it so far. Look for a real blog in a couple of days. The new blog is called "Out of the Box". That's what we are going to do; look at the church, religion, and life in general from someone who likes to color outside of the lines. I'll be back. God bless, Pastor Ken.