Children On The Border

Children On The Border

I have to admit, this one has troubled me deeply. I feel a little schizophrenic:

Part of me says, What kind of parent sends a child across a guarded border into the arms of law enforcement and strangers? And the other part of me says, A parent who is poor, living under threat, and hopeless.

Part of me says, Should not a government the size of Mexico be responsible for its children? And the other part of me says, With all that is wrong with American government, isn’t it amazing that people assume we will be compassionate to children?

Part of me says, Why would we be so compassionate, merciful, and helpful to these children who are a burden to our society? And the other part of me says, Isn’t it interesting that we take no concern for burdensome children in the womb?

Part of me says, Why do we need $52,000 per child to care for them? And the other part of me says, I bet there are plenty childless couples who would open their lives to adopt these children.

Part of me says, I wish we would cancel the purchase of a few bombers to pay for this, rather than adding to the deficit. And the other part of me says, That’s a very good idea.

Part of me says, Politics aside, these are children. And the other part of me says, Jesus would care for the children first, then challenge adults to be, well, adults.

When Hope Sinks

When Hope Sinks

“Don’t get your hopes up.”

That’s what we say to each other as a warning against inflationary expectation. The higher our hopes climb, the harder they fall. It’s dangerous to risk a fall of Humpty Dumpty proportions. Few people specialize in putting shattered hope back together again.

Have you ever heard someone predict the second coming of Jesus? Have you ever read a book that connected the dots between world events and the biblical text of the Revelation of Jesus to John? I suggest that people who interpret the Book of the Revelation as a time line of the end are manipulating our hopes. They tell us:

  • the Antichrist is here
  • the blocks of the new Temple are already cut
  • Armageddon is just around the corner
  • the mark of the beast is a computer chip installed under our skin

They speak of these things as warnings to the unprepared and good news to the ready-to-be-raptured. Yet, for the life of me, these predictions don’t get my hopes up anymore. I guess I’m old enough now to know some history. I know about the failed predictions of the end-of-the-world in the years 999, 1843, 1988, and 2012.

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Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day

Independence Day

Enjoy this July 4th holiday!

 

Hobby Lobby and the Kingdom of God

Hobby Lobby and the Kingdom of God

For many in our world, the idea of religion as an influencer of public policy is frightening. As long as the church stays inside its walls, redeems drunkards from the city streets, marries and buries, then it is due the tax exemption that it receives. But when the church finds a voice in the public arena and begins to operate out of a different cultural narrative, then it is narrow, bigoted, and dangerous. That’s the world we live in. And Christians with convictions are in the crosshairs of public opinion.

And then we wake up to a Supreme Court decision that upholds the conscience of the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby. I find some elements of Obamacare to be helpful – children staying on their parent’s health coverage through their college years, the mandate that requires insurance companies to offer coverage to families who have children with serious illness, and the attempt to address the uninsured. At the same time, I find the over-reach that ignores a sacred conviction about life in the womb to be unacceptable.

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Win a Copy of My New Book

Win a Copy of My New Book

win the way we work

I’m so excited to announce the release of my new book, The Way We Work: How Faith Makes a Difference on the Job. July 1 marks the official publication date.

Would you like to win a copy of my new book?

We’re holding a giveaway here on the blog from now until July 7 at 11:59 p.m. central time.

Enter below, tell your friends, and then come back daily for an additional entry when you Tweet about the giveaway.

And if you’d like to go ahead and order a copy of the book, it’s available on Amazon.  You can also download sample pages and order it from my publisher, Beacon Hill Press.

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Is College Worth It?

Is College Worth It?

Is college worth it?

This seems to be the big question these days. You know my prejudices before reading the rest of this post. And if I wrote only from the perspective of worldly wisdom, my answer would go like this:

The pay gap between college graduates and everyone else has reached a record high. “According to the new data, which is based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree…. The decision not to attend college for fear that it’s a bad deal is among the most economically irrational decisions anybody could make in 2014.” (David Leonhardt, The Upshot, May 27, 2014) The value of a college education has never been higher. Trevecca students graduate with an average debt less than the price of a mid-sized used car and will go on to earn half-a-million to a million more during their lifetime than their non-degreed peers.

But this answer, while true, bows to the wrong God. Money has been elevated to a position once held by God, the ultimate justifier. President Obama and the US Department of Education are rolling out new requirements that the incomes of college graduates must be tracked for proof that they make money. The one common religion that encompasses the entire world is the pursuit of wealth. Now the only sanctioned reason for going to college is to make more money.

While I am committed to an education that enables a graduate to do great work, I believe the reason for a Christian university is much more radical. We are training cultural and economic missionaries who invade every field of human work with an alternate view of reality. Our graduates believe that the kingdom of God comes as we do the will of the Father on earth as it is done in heaven.

What if there was a college that graduated people marked by the character of God, whose work ethic was driven by their moral values, and whose concern for the neighbor made the world more just and gracious?

What if there was a college that taught its graduates how to make a life?

I went to one. I work at one. It’s called Trevecca. And it’s worth every penny.

Mowing the Lawn

Mowing the Lawn

I mowed my lawn this week. It was 92 degrees, humid, and sweaty. I have two lawn mowers – a push mower and a self-propelled, neither the kind you ride on. As a person who needs more exercise, I refuse to purchase a riding lawn mower. The grass forces me to work. And at the end of the weekly ritual there is something mysteriously sacred about the mown lawn. For all the work I do, this single ritual most acquaints me with God. I’m not sure why.

My lawn mowing career began as a child at my grandparent’s home. They had beautiful Saint Augustine grass. It even sounds holy. And they owned an ancient lawn mower that had no motor. A twirling set of cutting blades spun round and round, equivalent to the speed with which it was being pushed. The faster you pushed it, the better it cut. Mowing their yard was a group exercise. With 27 cousins hanging around, we each pushed until we couldn’t breathe and then the next cousin took over. I cut my mowing teeth on that old mower.

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From the Mouths of Kids—About a Dad

From the Mouths of Kids—About a Dad

For this Father’s Day, I decided to turn to the true experts on the subjects: my grandchildren. You’ll hear from each of them as they answer the question, “What do you like best about your dad?”

I love when my daddy plays hide and seek and tickle monster. He also spins me around while singing ‘Frozen’ to me and I never stop giggling. The moment he stops spinning, I ask for more. He is the best dad because he loves me and takes care of me!”

—Rowan, age 19 months (as interpreted by Mom)

father's day

I love that my dad is funny.  My dad takes me camping. I like that he spends time with me when he has breaks from his work.  I sometimes call my dad Edwina.  I love him.”

—Clara, age 6

“I love that my dad is funny.  He teaches and goes fishing with me.  He takes me hiking and teaches me about bugs and animals.  I love it when he wrestles with me.  I love that one time he played hide and seek with me and my family.  I made the mistake of hiding in the shower and he turned the cold water on me.  My dad and I both love spicy food.  He is the best, funniest, helpful dad—and the best prankster.”

—Eleanor, age 10

father's day

I like my dad because he is nice, caring, loveable, and funny, and fun. One time we were going to go to Chick-fil-A for daddy-daughter date night but we found out it was on the wrong day, so, my dad took me to Panera, my favorite restaurant, instead. My dad even does stuff when he doesn’t want to do it just for us. Like sometimes, on Tuesdays when we have dates and it’s my turn with Mommy, he puts Boone to bed even when he doesn’t want to (Boone is cray-cray). I love my dad.

P.S. He’s the best dad in the world—wait, no, the universe (not counting God).”

—Anna, age 8

father's day

I love my dad because he is awesome! He is the best dad in the world. He plays Legos, ninja turtles, softball, catch, and superheroes with me. He’s good at wrestling. He bought me a slushy one time and took me on a picnic. He took a walk with me and I like him because he is the best daddy in the world. He cleans the dishes when he doesn’t want to. He serves us dinner. He serves us lunch and breakfast. I love my dad because he can make my hair look crazy and he taught me how to do Boone’s hair crazy. He cleans up my room and he cleans up the playroom. I love you, Daddy.”

—Grey, age 6

father's day

I love Dada. Dada is pice (nice). Dada makes me scream for fun. Dada reads me stories. Dada holds me. I love Dada. He keeps me safe by buckling me in my car seat. Dada makes me “appy” (happy).”

—Boone, age 2 (as written by his big brother and sister)

father's day

It appears to me that the gift of time and attention is what makes a child think their dad is great.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day!

If I Pastor Again …

If I Pastor Again …

After 33 years as a pastor of a local church, I went over to the dark side of college administration and became a university president. After 10 years on the dark side, I look back at my old work and wonder what I would do differently.

I think I know. Rather than trying to wrestle 10 volunteer hours from laity who had worked 50 hours that week, I’d invest in the quality of their 50 hours in the workplace. Rather than convincing them to energize the programs I was most invested in, I would energize the work God had given them to do in the world. Rather than measuring success as seating capacity on Sunday, I’d measure it as sending capacity on Monday.

Yes, I’d still ask them to invest in youth and children, serve in the nursery, feed the hungry, visit the sick, and do all the things a mature body of Jesus does. But I’d view the mission of the local church as the way we served the community through our work.

The gathered church occupies 5-10 hours a week at most. The scattered church lives shoulder-to-shoulder in the world 50-80 hours a week. As a gathered church, we are mostly among the found.

As a scattered church, we are mostly among the lost.

way.we.work.coverThis conviction drove me to write The Way We Work: How Faith Makes a Difference on the Job.  If I pastor again, these are the kinds of things I will say to people.

~~~~~

You can purchase a copy, find out more, or read a few sample pages of my new book, The Way We Work, here.

God’s No Stranger to Small

God’s No Stranger to Small

In my last post, I left you with this question:

Is it possible that the church of Jesus, in cultural exile today, has done the same thing? Shrunk her vision to returning to Yesteryear, to getting back to the culture of yesterday, recovering all that we have lost?

I say yes and here’s my explanation.

I was at a gathering of pastors who were invited to share the most exciting thing that had happened in their congregation the previous year. Many shared about transformation in the lives of people and ministries having an impact on their community. One pastor shared that his congregation had broken the Guinness World Record for the longest banana split. God had, he told us, provided a good price on bananas and ice cream. Maybe it was a community outreach or a morale booster for the church, but I could not help thinking about the Servant of the Lord. Given the mission of lighting up the world with the message of Jesus, why are we looking for bargains on bananas? The saddest thing is that this probably was the most exciting thing that happened in that church that year.

Has the church of Jesus become narrowly narcissistic? Do we even see the dark world around us and speak into it with the confidence of the Servant of the Lord that our news is worth sitting up and paying attention to? Or are we people who gather in our churches and care mostly about ourselves?

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