links to four helpful articles

1. The Art of Spiritual Grandparenting [essential reading]

“What role do we have, or does any older family member have, for children who are not our own but for whom we care deeply?”

2. Why Anger is a Wasted Emotion [essential reading]

“… the question I raise is this: When their fellow citizens are suffering on such a terrible scale, what are the most engaged, most resourced Americans doing with their lives?”

3. Gamla in the Galilee

“It was important for the Romans to destroy Gamla because it was the central Zealot stronghold east of the Sea of Galilee. The Zealots were among the most radical of the Jewish groups supporting the revolt. Moreover, since Gamla was near the main road connecting Israel to the great Jewish centers in Babylon, it was the natural entry point for any help the Zealots hoped for from their brethren in Mesopotamia. … Gamla is one of very few places in the Roman empire where a battle site was abandoned and never resettled.”

4. Advice for loud people on working with quiet people

“This is my advice for working with quieter people in workplaces, classrooms, or ministry settings. It is drawn from my own experience as someone who’s on the quiet side and from insights of people I know.”

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: May 3-9

Among the things that happened this past week in the American Restoration Heritage history:

May 3

* May 3, 1824 – Before both God and man, what does true honesty – or dishonesty – look like in the pulpit? What place ought prayers and sermon notes have – or not have – in connection with sermon delivery? And, did Alexander Campbell ever skip school, cheat on exam, or receive corporal punishment in his youth?

Today, in an article in the Christian Baptist entitled “Pulpit Honesty,” Alexander Campbell us gives answer to all of the above. He writes:

“When I was a boy I sometimes played truant, and fearing the ferula, I would sometimes write off my lesson on a slip of paper, cut according to the dimensions of my book; and with this before me, I was enabled to translate with some degree of fluency. I was lately reminded of my boyish tricks, when attending ‘the divine service’ of a popular divine, of a neighboring county … His text was, ‘Among whom shine ye as lights in the world.’ After a ‘solemn prayer’ for divine assistance in delivering a suitable message, he opened his Bible, in which he had very ingeniously inserted his manuscript. He held the book in his right hand, and with considerable sleight of hand turned the leaf seven or eight times, during the pronunciation of this heaven dictated message. He must have read 14 or 16 pages of matter, no doubt well arranged and condensed. His eyes turned askance to the right, at proper intervals, furnished his tongue with inspiration. Thought I, this is a sure method of obtaining an answer from heaven for a suitable message: first to have it in writing, and then to ask it from God. But the recollection of the double portion of the rod, which I used to receive for such a trick, (for I was whipped, when detected, first for not having my lesson, and secondly, for striving to cheat my preceptor) brought such a train of reflections to my mind, that I was ready to charge the parson with having been the cause of ‘my thinking my own thoughts,’ while ‘he was shining a light in a dark place.’

“I thought that the sacred desk was never elevated to be a protection against the detection of theft. I thought how deleterious to morals was such an example. To see a character so sacred, on so sacred an occasion, strive to cheat the eyes of gallery critics, by the agility of his fingers, and the charms of a well directed glance of the eye. In vain to remonstrate against hypocrisy when the finger is separating the concealed leaves; in vain to recommend honesty to the youth, when the pen, and perhaps the words of another, are made to speak what was never felt, and to act the part of a prompter behind the curtain; in vain to teach sincerity in our prayers to God, when the parson prays with apparent sincerity for a sermon, while he has it in his pocket. In fact, I was so mortified by this clerical fraud, that I could not but commend the honesty of the Catholic priest, and the Episcopahan curate, who, when he reads his sermon, manfully and honestly lays it before him in the presence of all, and never dares to ask from heaven what he has in writing, as if to impose upon the superstition of his hearers.”

* May 4, 1824 – How ought a church leader handle the reception of an anonymous letter? Today, in the same issue of the Christian Baptist just cited, we learn how Alexander Campbell dealt with such.

Today, Campbell responds to a man who has sent him an anonymous letter containing seven questions. Campbell responds to the anonymous request by answering the man’s questions … in public print, in the Christian Baptist. Yes, he publishes the letter and his responses to the seven questions … and then, taking the gloves off, adds seven questions of his own for the man to respond to in reply, the first of which reads:

“What is your name? Should you honor me with another epistle and suppress your name, I cannot answer it, because I could not then consider you an honest and well-meaning lay-man who fears not the light.”

Campbell’s response brings to mind the “bubbles” superimposed over fight scenes in the original ‘Batman’ TV series (e.g. – “WHAM!,” “POW!,” etc.).

May 4

* May 4, 1842 – The future president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, pays a visit to Alexander Campbell and Bethany College.

Davis is impressed with Bethany College and so, leaves William J. Stamps* of Wilkinson County, Mississippi, his favorite nephew, with Campbell for enrollment in Bethany. In a lengthy letter published in the August 6, 1903 edition of the Christian Evangelist under the title “The First Graduating Class of Bethany College,” J.A. Dearborn tells of how Davis esteemed Alexander Campbell and his work. Dearborn writes:

“I remember … that Jefferson Davis remained at Bethany for several days, and that he was said to be a warm admirer of Mr. Campbell and sympathized with the grand religious enterprise that Mr. Campbell had in charge.”

[* Not many months later, in early 1843, Stamps dies on the campus of Bethany College from injuries he suffered in a fall while ice-skating on nearby Buffalo Creek.]

* May 4, 1871 – Today, a letter penned by the famous Confederate General Robert E. Lee is published in the Apostolic Times.* It is a letter Lee originally penned to a friend, telling him of what he (Lee) thought of Alexander Campbell:

“As Dr. Symonds said of the great Milton, so may I say of the late President of Bethany College, ‘That he was a man in whom were illustriously combined all the qualities that could adorn or elevate the nature to which he belonged. Knowledge, the most various and extended virtue that never loitered in her career, nor deviated from her course. A man who, if he had been delegated as the representative of his species to one of the many Superior worlds, would have suggested a grand idea of the human race. Such was President Campbell.”

* [Both Campbell and Lee are dead when this letter appears in the Apostolic Times; Campbell having deceased in 1866 and Lee having passed on in 1870.]

May 5

May 5, 1889 – Today, one week after “Harrison’s Horse Race,” a one-armed preacher organizes the first Restoration Heritage church in the newly opened “Unassigned Lands.”

The church is located in the city now known as “Guthrie.” With the land run a week ago, Guthrie went from non-existence to being a city of ten thousand, quite literally, overnight. James M. Monroe leads the church’s organization efforts and he and Dick T. Morgan serve as shepherds of the twenty-one member congregation. The fold for this little flock is a 12′ x 15′ cabin that has walls, but doesn’t yet have a roof or floor.

Guthrie? But, what of Oklahoma City, you ask? A nineteen-member church will be organized there one week from now. Guthrie (Logan County) will serve as the capital of the Indian Territory until the region is granted statehood in 1907 and it will serve as the capital of Oklahoma until 1910, at which time Oklahoma City takes over that role. Oklahoma City is located just north of the center of the state and Guthrie is on the northern edge of what is now the greater OKC metroplex.

What do we know of James M. Monroe? Monroe is born in northeastern Ohio in 1843. During the Civil War he serves as a Private in Company G of the U.S., 42nd Ohio Infantry Regiment … yes, your memory serves you correctly, the 42nd Ohio is the regiment James A. Garfield raises up and leads. Monroe suffers the loss of an arm in the siege of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863. His debilitating wound marks the end of his military service, but affords him time to attend college – Hiram College, Alliance College, and Butler University (where he receives a Master’s degree). In the 1870’s he serves as a college professor and president in California. In 1886 (in Ohio) and 1890 (in Ohio) he makes unsuccessful bids as a candidate for Congress on the Prohibition ticket.

By 1904 – fifteen years after the land run and still three years prior to statehood – the land now known as Oklahoma can claim to have over three hundred Restoration Heritage churches with over sixteen thousand members. At least one congregation can be found in every county of the state and no community with a population of least one thousand is without a Restoration Heritage church.

[A sidenote: The northern half of Oklahoma and the southern half of Oklahoma are somewhat different from each other and no small part of those distinctions can be traced back to who settles these areas. A much higher percentage of the earlier settlers in north and northeast Oklahoma come from states that were associated with the Union during the Civil War than do those who comprise the populace of the south and southwestern portions of the state. Many of the those living in the southern half of Oklahoma came to the land from Texas (which aligned itself with the Confederacy). The evidence for such can clearly be seen by simply walking some of the older cemeteries in the state. Gravestones inscribed with the initials “G.A.R.” (“Grand Army of the Republic;” i.e. – the Union Army) are far more common in the northern half of the state than in the southern half. Walk some of the cemeteries on, or shortly after, Memorial Day and you’ll notice a much higher percentage of small Confederate battle flags posted on graves in the south than you will on graves in the northern portions of Oklahoma. In fact, southeastern Oklahoma is still referred to by some today as “Little Dixie” and a community once existed in my home county in south-central Oklahoma (Stephens) that was known simply as “Dixie.”

May 6

May 6, 1864 – The birth of a child has, for the first time, made you a parent. You have been thrust into a brave, new world! What do you need to know, and always remember, most of all? And just what sort of advice or help might you expect to receive from your father or father-in-law at such a time? Or, looking from the other direction, who can understand, much less communicate, the depth of joy and thankfulness, pride and hope, that well up in the heart of a grandparent at the birth of a grandchild? And, just how is a parent to relate well to his adult child and son-in-law with sensitivity and the offering of advice?

We learn some of the answers to these things as a man pens a letter today to his son-in-law and his youngest daughter upon the birth of their first child, a girl. The letter’s author is Alexander Campbell, the recipients are John & Decima Barclay, and it is the birth of Virginia Huntington Barclay that provides the occasion. The Barclays are overseas at the time, in Larnaca, Cyrpus. Let me encourage you to read this letter very slowly, so as to truly savour the state of mind and the choice of words and phrasing by father-in-law/grandfather Campbell.

“My dear son and daughter:

“We cordially congratulate you in the reception of an heir from the Lord. This is a rich and precious gift from the Lord, which the wealth of the richest monarch on earth could not purchase, though possessed of all the gold of Ophir. It constitutes you parents, and lays upon you an obligation of paramount importance. For such a precious gift kings would sometimes give a kingdom. But all the gold of Ophir could not purchase it. Still, it is to be nourished, cared for, protected, and brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Many are the duties incumbent upon us for such a present from the Lord. In the reception of it our heavenly Father virtually says to us: ‘Take this child, educate, and train it for me, and great shall be your reward.’ It is, indeed, withal, a pleasing task. But to secure this, the Lord has wisely, kindly, and deeply planted in the maternal and paternal heart – a paramount affection. Mothers have more generally a deeper and a more enduring natural affection than fathers. Because, we presume, they need it most. Their faithful efforts are, indeed, well rewarded. Children generally love their mothers more than their fathers; and so, me thinks, they ought; for a mother’s affection is generally stronger and more enduring than a father’s.

“But there are exceptions to all general rules. We have all, if observant, seen some of them in this case. To love and to be loved is, in all the relations of life, the richest and the greatest blessing, on earth which we can achieve. We cannot buy it. We must earn it. To be loved we must love. But to love not only our friends, but our enemies, is required by the great Teacher. This is godlike. When we remember this, we cannot but examine ourselves. And, indeed, it is to us all-important that we should habitually examine ourselves, and say to the Lord, ‘Search me, O Lord! and try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and show it to me, and lead me, and guide me in the way everlasting!’

“We have peace and tranquility in our position in [West] Virginia. College is in session, with a considerable increase of students. And, were it not for our newspapers, we should not know that there was any war in our country; for which blessing we should be most grateful to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Everything here moves on in its wonted channel. Civil wars are very uncivil things, and wholly contraband to both the letter and spirit of the gospel of the God of peace.

“Your description of the island of Cyprus, published in the April number of the ‘Harbinger,’ has been read with great interest and pleasure, as we learn from all quarters. It is, indeed, a feast to us all; when finished by you, we shall dilate more fully upon it. I am not sure, indeed, but that a full history of it from your pen would be a most useful and interesting volume. … Think of it, and gather and keep all documents of interest, … and on your return give a history of your whole tour. I am constrained, though with reluctance, to close this scroll with an apology. All our family at home unite with me in all affection to you and Decima, father and mother.

“Most affectionately,

“A. Campbell”

Sadly, “Virgie” will live to see only eighteen years of life here. And, perhaps not surprisingly, it is her gravestone that is by far the most unique and elaborate of the nearly three hundreds graves that comprise the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia.

May 7

May 7, 1827 – Have you ever come to be viewed with suspicion simply because you read religious writings penned by those who see things differently? Have your ever found yourself on a trajectory away from some matters you once held to dearly in terms of faith? Have you ever found yourself shot at by the very people you felt sure would support you in your quest for more certain faith? Have you ever been shaken to the very core because it became clear to you that a great many others are infinitely more concerned with status, tradition, control, or power than they are with Scripture, truth, consistency, or purpose?

Well, no matter what it feels like, you’re by no means alone and it isn’t a new experience. And, by means of a letter by “S.E. S______,” reproduced today in Alexander Campbell’s Christian Baptist (CB), we’re reminded of such.

“Brother Campbell,

“You will, undoubtedly, be surprised to hear of the unparalleled proceedings of ‘The Northumberland Particular Baptist Association,’ relative to the Little Muncey church [in Mingo County, WV; the opposite end of the state from Bethany]. I never knew any body of men, religious or political, guilty of such glaring inconsistencies, before. Neither did I think that any body of people, regarded even MEN, would have hazarded their reputation in such a manner. It is some time since I become convinced that confessions of faith, when used as TESTS of orthodoxy, are attended with great mischief in the church of God. Of this I was convinced by the proceedings of the above association.

“As soon as I was thoroughly convinced, I publicly, unequivocally, and solemnly entered my protest against them, and drew upon my head the united opposition of the sects in this country. Some declared me to be a SOCINIAN [Unitarian]. Others affirmed that I was a UNIVERSALIST. Some of the Baptists were apprized of my taking The Christian Baptist, and consequently blamed YOU with my ‘departure from the faith.’ The news had no sooner reached the WHITE DEER, than THOMAS SMILEY said he must be put DOWN. This FIELD MARSHALL mounted his ROZINANTE [‘Rozinante’ was the name of Don Quixote’s old, broken-down horse] and hied [hurried] him away to Shamokin [in Pennsylvania], to the largest division of this little army, and gave orders that they should be in readiness the next August when the whole forces would be collected, (or rather REPRESENTED) in that place, to transact important business. He informed them that ‘a certain young man,’ who had, not long since been ORDAINED, had renounced ‘THE PHILADELPHIA’ [the Philadelphia Confession of Faith of 1742], and all other confessions of faith. He reminded them that they, by their delegates, had solemnly subscribed it, and concluded by expressing his hopes that they would never relinquish it. He also hoped that they be forward to contend for it at the NEXT ASSOCIATION.

“Having heard that WAR was declared against me, I declined attending the association that year, as a DELEGATE. I, however, attended, as a spectator, the second day. Not long after my arrival the GENERALISSIMO began cannonading. I returned a few shots. Night coming on, we could not get into actual engagement. I was in hopes the storm of battle would blow over.

“The next morning, however, they fired at me at least one hour with a LARGE GUN, which they obtained from NEW-JERSEY. It contained nothing but BLANK charges. They spent one hour more in firing at me with a POP-GUN, which they called HENRY CLACK. Finding that I was still on the ground, the CHIEF-GENERAL concluded that he would let loose upon me. But some of the most influential members of the Shamokin church, hearing several gentlemen declare that they would leave the ground ‘if Mr. S______ was not allowed to speak,’ determined that I should have the next SHOT. I arose and had the satisfaction of seeing some of their VETERANS leave the ground before I concluded. The FIELD MARSHALL endeavored to rally his forces, but in vain. I knew of but one who would stand by me in the day of battle, but to my great surprise I heard, a NON-COMMISSIONED officer of the Shamokin department declare that my cause was just, and that he also renounced confessions of faith. ‘I then thanked God and took courage.’

“There are several in this department who are disgusted with ecclesiastical tyranny; but they can’t fight – I am, however, not alone. The people in this section of country, who have never been MARRIED to creeds, I believe, are universally opposed to them.”

“S.E.S______

“Moreland, the 30th of January, 1827”

[Note: In his letter, S.E.S______ placed emphasis on certain words by two means: italics and ALL CAPS. In the reproduction of his letter above, I’ve retained S.E.S______’s use of ALL CAPS where he used them, but have converted his use of words in italics to ALL CAPS.]

May 8

May 8, 1886 – Imagine a Presbyterian Church inviting you, a Restoration Heritage preacher, to “hold a meeting” for them. Yes, imagine that.

Today is a Saturday, and every night this week T.B. Larimore has been preaching at the Presbyterian Church in Florence, Alabama. No, the Restoration Heritage churches in Florence have not borrowed the Presbyterian’s building in which to conduct their own evangelistic effort. Rather, Larimore is conducting a meeting at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church in Florence. The local paper, the Florence Gazette, reports that his preaching this week has been “to large congregations” and “with marked effect.”

And yes, like you, I’m still working on that “imagine” business.

May 9

May 9, 1895 – Why is it the greatest antagonism is typically shown between people who have the least differences, while kinder and gentler words and ways are selected for those with whom we have far less in common? Is it not because money and material things are worth so very much to us? And do we think those of the world who are yet to believe, don’t notice?

The year 1906 is generally recognized as the year the major split in the Restoration Heritage is officially recognized. But, of course, the rip in the fabric of the heritage had been growing for several decades prior. Serious church fights are all too common from the 1860’s onward and, as a result, lawsuits over church property have steadily increased.

Due to this very problem a letter from the pen of Thomas R. Burnett is published today in the Gospel Advocate. Burnett counsels brethren to take the hit and not take matters of church property into civil courts for decision. But, his letter also speaks of the great bitterness that boils in the hearts of many brethren who disagree over matters such as church government, instrumental music, missionary societies, and open or close communion … his own heart, not excluded.

“Brethren, proceed to re-establish the ancient order of things, just as if there never was a Church of Christ in your town. Gather all the brethren together who love Bible order better than modern fads and foolishness, and start the work and worship of the church in the old apostolic way. Do not go to law over church property. It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. Build a cheap and comfortable chapel, and improve it when you get able. It is better to have one dozen true disciples in a cheap house than a thousand apostate pretenders in a palace who love modern innovations better than Bible truths.”

“True disciples” and “apostate pretenders.” (sigh) One has to wonder how the division between our religious ancestors might have played out – and what witness of Christian spirit might have been given to the world – if churches then had simply not sought to own property at all in the first place, choosing instead to gather together as the church first did in Jerusalem – in public places and in private homes. And, some of us wonder why churches need to own billions of dollars property today … and whether Christ’s kingdom is really better off for it or not.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bias, criticism, open-mindedness & thinking: Why We Confuse The Onion for the News [essential reading]

“… we all have biases, and our efforts to rid ourselves of them through education and self-awareness don’t actually ‘fix’ the problem.”

Cell phones & etiquette: Cell Phone Funeral Etiquette

“Cell phones often go off when we least want them to. In church. In school. During sex. And at a funeral. As other funeral directors can attest, the oddest thing about a cell phone ringing during funerals is how many people will actually answer.”

Church attendance, faith, millennials, peace & unity: The Millennials Are Rejecting Fighting Churches and Christians [essential reading]

“… many of them are walking away from our churches, and more of them are not attending at all, when they witness or hear about negativity and divisiveness in those churches. They want to see unity among Christians, and they are often disappointed.”

Health: * Aging Well: Keeping Blood Sugar Low May Protect Memory; * Depression: Could Be Almost Depressed?

* “… even modest increases in blood sugar among people in their 50s, 60s and 70s can have a negative influence on memory.”

* “Research suggests that as many as 12 million people in the United States may be suffering from low-grade depression symptoms that are not severe enough to warrant clinical treatment. … In fact, on some of these measures, people who are almost depressed report feeling worse off than people who actually fall into the clinically depressed range. … There is also another more serious problem: Research indicates about 75% of cases of low-grade depression will devolve into full-blown major depression if they are not recognized and arrested.”

Grandparenting, parenting & prayer: How to Pray for Your Children & Grandchildren [required reading]

“Because there are 12 prayers in this list, you could concentrate on one prayer per month to concentrate on. Within a year you will have consistently prayed the entire list.”

Holy Spirit: The Kingdom’s Second Major Death

“Why has this gone on?  Why has the Holy Spirit been quenched in our circles? Control.  Man is obsessed with control; even in religion’s court. … The Kingdom’s second major death, after Jesus’ upon the cross, is that of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of men.  We have killed Him off and buried Him in our tombs of organization and control.”

Leisure, online & time management: What You Would Be Doing If You Spent Less Time Online

“More time online means less time socializing, studying, and sleeping.”

Faith & President Obama: * The President’s Devotional: What Obama ‘Did In Secret’ In Newtown; * The Man Behind the President’s Devotional

* “The president took a deep breath and steeled himself, and went into the first classroom. And what happened next I’ll never forget. … It must have been one of the defining moments of his presidency, quiet hours in solemn classrooms, extending as much healing as was in his power to extend. But he kept it to himself—never seeking to teach a lesson based on those mournful conversations, or opening them up to public view.”

* “Dubois has been sending devotionals to Obama every morning since the 2008 presidential campaign. A collection of these spiritual messages to the president has now been published Dubois’ new book, The President’s Devotional. Dubois started working for Obama shortly after he became a senator. A public policy and economics student at Princeton University, he was also ordained at a small Pentecostal church where he served as an associate pastor. It was this combination of skills that led him to become Obama’s faith outreach coordinator during his first presidential campaign and, later, to be appointed as the Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the president’s first term.”

this went thru my mind

 

Apologies, civility, & humility: The Sorry State of the Apology by Dorothy Greco

“The apology seems to be at an all-time high, and simultaneously, an all-time low.”

Attitude, church, expectations, ministry & vision: 10 Dangerous Church Paradigms by Ron Edmonson

“I’ve been in church all my life. Along the way I’ve seen and learned a lot. Almost all the insight I have into church has come by experience. I have observed, for example, that paradigms can often shape a church’s culture. A paradigm in simple terms, is a mindset; a way of thinking. In this case, a collective mindset of the church, often programmed into the church’s culture. If the church is unhealthy part of the reason could be because it has some wrong paradigms. In that case, it will almost always need a paradigm shift in order to be a healthier church again.”

Bible interpretation, hermeneutics, & humility: CENI – Having a Humble Hermeneutic by Matt Dabbs

“My goal in this post is to … to remind us that we must be humble in how we interpret scripture and what we bind or don’t bind on other people.”

Cell phones & privacy: Create a Temporary Number

“Burner gives you a free number that lasts for one day, five voice calls or 15 texts. If you need more, you can buy a new number or extend your current number for a few dollars. Calls and texts don’t count against your monthly limit. The app allows you to permanently delete – ‘burn’ – any number at any time. This takes it out of the service and permanently deletes it from your phone.”

Climate change, ecology, environment, global warming, & preachers: New Research on Protestant Pastors’ Views of the Environment

“When asked to respond to the statement ‘I believe global warming is real and man made’ …”

Culture, history, immigration, prejudice, & the United States: Why I’ve Stopped Saying ‘We are a Nation of Immigrantsby Kevin Miller

“As innocuous as it sounds, the ‘nation of immigrants’ line is an abbreviated version of the prevailing narrative of national origins that makes white people like me the norm while making others, well, ‘others.’ Without appearing to do so, it subtly shapes my thinking about
who is and isn’t a true or real American.”

Evolution & science: Biological Evolution: What Makes it Good Science? (parts 1 & 2)

“Is the contemporary theory of evolution an example of good science? The answer to this question completely depends on how you define ‘science,’ and what you think makes science ‘good.’ … In conclusion, when measured against the standards of a good scientific theory, modern evolutionary biology clearly qualifies as good science.  Ongoing debates within evolutionary biology exist about mechanism, rates, and causes, but not over whether evolution occurred.  Such a question has been largely settled by the last 150 years’ worth of research.”

Grandparenting: A Letter to the Grandkids On Baptism by Mark Woodward

“Grandad would just like to write this letter to all of you, those baptized already and those who will be.  These are just a few things I really want you to know about your baptism that I’ve been thinking about.”

Leadership: Leading From Psychological Brokenness

“The High Calling talked to four experts about how psychological pathologies impact leaders and their organizations. In a series of four articles, we’ll examine the topic. First, let’s explore what we mean by psychological pathology.”

Marriage: So What IS Marriage by Patrick Mead

“… if you think THIS is complicated, wait until you study a bit and see how complicated sexual identity is.”

a sermon to my granddaughter

 

I’m a father of two and a grandfather of four. The most recent birth of a grandchild was this past Wed., June 6 when Kinley Lynn Wheeler was born to my daughter and son-in-law, Brant & Amber Wheeler (that was the reason for the tremor in the earth you felt). No, my feet still haven’t touched the ground yet.

Now upon the birth of each child and grandchild, it’s been my privilege and habit to preach the following Sunday morning sermon from some Scripture that came to mind during the preceding week’s glorious gifting from God. Consequently, at MoSt Church this past Sunday morning (June 10, 2012), I preached a sermon entitled A Sermon to my Granddaughter. I very rarely manuscript sermons, but I did write out in advance the majority of the heart of this one, choosing my wording with a bit of extra special care. The words of that manuscript, the words of the lion’s share of this past Sunday morning’s sermon, appear below.

Before we get to the sermon text, let me help set it up with three notes. First, no small percentage of MoSt Church‘s attendees on any given Sunday morning are grandparents or great-grandparents. We have no shortage of gray hair. Not surprisingly, a common question I’ve fielded through the years goes something like this: “How can I, as a grandparent, maximize my influence for Christ in the life of my grandchildren?” This sermon was, by example, a portion of my typical answer: “Start telling them and backing it up with your life as soon as they enter this world!”

Second, I preached this sermon with all of the children and grandchildren present very much in mind. I wanted them to overhear some of the things a Christ-following grandparent would say to them by enabling them to overhear what I want all of my grandchildren hearing and seeing as they grow up.

And third, I nickname the females in our family, but not the males. The nickname I’ve landed on for my granddaughter is “Starshine.” Understand that little Kinley has a head full of dark hair and it was my wife’s long and lovely brunette hair that I noticed first when I first saw my future wife and “Starshine” was my wife’s CB handle back in the day.

Now, the sermon …

… we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. … He received honor and glory from God the Father when a voice came to him from the magnificent glory, saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.” … we have a most reliable prophetic word, and you would do well to pay attention to it, just as you would to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (2 Peter 1.16-19)

I, Jesus … [am] the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star. The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who is thirsty come! Let the one who wishes receive life-giving water as a gift. (Revelation 22.16-17)

My Little Starshine,

There’s so much I want to tell you. I can’t tell you all of it now, but I can start. And I want to begin telling it to you this way, in a sermon, because I want you to spend your whole life deeply listening to and engaging sermons with all of your heart and ways. And as you hear what I say, understand it’s all coming from someone who is still has so very, very much to learn.

You have exactly one life in which to do everything you’ll ever do, so live accordingly.

That doesn’t mean live life for yourself. Quite the opposite. It doesn’t mean indulge yourself in whatever you please or whatever feels good to you in the moment. No, not at all.

It means to live your life deliberately and to live it for the one who gave it to you.

It means to:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22.37-39)

Worship God. Develop an unquenchable thirst and unceasing hunger for God. Crave knowing him. Revel in rejoicing in him, praising him, and thanking him.

Stand in awe of God. Neither assume nor presume too much of him. He is wholly other. Ever remember your place before him, small like a grain of sand before a mountain, and ever personal, present and perfect. He is love. Live your life caught up higher and higher into the clouds of the wonder of him.

And so, see your whole life as worship of him. You were given life to serve God, and serving him is your life. This is worship. This is life. Let no one lead you to think otherwise.

Memorize and meditate on what God has revealed to us. Take the book of God, the Bible, and eat it. Make it your daily food.

Count success in your life not by your number of accomplishments, but by your accommodating yourself to the will of God.

Pray. Talk to God and never stop. Listen. Listen to God and follow up with your life.

Plant yourself in the community of faith, Christ’s church, and stay there, bearing shade and fruit as God enables you. Life among God’s people, his church, is your laboratory for living out eternal life. Among his people is where he put you, and so, is where you belong. In his church is where you’ll be equipped and sharpened for use by God to be fully his.

Walk with God. Pray for and summon up the courage to actually live out whatever you understand of God. Whether anyone else does or not.

Make faith, not fear, your foundation in life. And as you walk thru your life, walk by faith in God and not by sight. Never stop moving, and inch ever closer to making your good intentions reality.

Keep walking with God, come what may. Troubles will come your way. Some will go and some may stay. No matter the size of the trouble, keep walking with God. He’s the one who will see you through it.

Let Jesus be your hero and model your life after him. Make your life about living well, not about living well off. That is, live your life holy and pure, wholly pleasing to God.

Soak your attitude and spirit in the holiness of God’s Spirit, for this is the soil out of which all of your actions grow. Guard your heart and your mind so that nothing or no one can trick you or deceive you into behavior that isn’t pure.

Never stop seeking and accepting God’s forgiveness. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, failures, and sins, but run with them to God for your forgiveness.

See every person you encounter as one made in God’s image. Treat them as you would treat Jesus Christ or as Christ would deal with them.

Come to know the power of your words to others, and so, choose them wisely and spend them economically.

Become a very good listener with true care for others, for the world is very short of, and in great need of, such people.

Establish and devote yourself to healthy habits that will keep you healthy in body and spirit. Those habits will shield you from many a distraction and temptation, wrong turn and sin. And so, die daily to yourself that you may live daily to Him.

Or to put it all of this in just as few a words as possible, I cannot improve upon the words of the Spirit-filled and Spirit-inspired apostle Paul …

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5.6b)

I love you. Far beyond words. But not nearly so much as our Lord does. And so, love him so.

Your Da-Do