Saturday, January 2, 2016

It's That Time Again...

The turn of another year. New beginnings, and all that stuff. Sigh.

I think I've said before that it's a bit odd that we put such significance on our particular custom of naming days and months and years. After all, January 1 is just a day after December 31, just like any other single-day change from day to day. But we give it such significance.

This is another such time, and I've embarked on another attempt at reading the Bible through this year. I have often started and seldom finished these endeavors in the past. The only time I seem to succeed is when I'm part of a group all doing the same thing.

I recently heard a sermon on the notion of having a "y'all theology." It's how the life of faith was intended to be lived. Many of the you's in the Bible are actually plural, but our individualistic minds hear them as singular. Our language limits our ability to understand. "You" should really be translated as "y'all" for clarity.

So, y'all need join me on this project. I'm on doing the plan called, "Reading God's Story: One-Year Chronological Plan." Send me (rbhawkins) a friend request and we'll do it together!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Habit of Service

We've been doing a series the last few weeks called 14 Habits of Highly Effective Disciples. This week we come to the habit, or perhaps discipline if you're so inclined, of service.

Now, most folks who have been associated with the Christian community for any length of time won't be surprised that serving others is something that Christians would encourage. I suspect the actual practice of serving others might be a bit spotty, and I'm sure there's lots to criticize, but the fact remains...serving others is near the core of living as a Christian.

So why do we serve more poorly than we might like? Perhaps it has to do with us taking an overly simple view of service. The easiest way for us to serve is to give away something we have in abundance; time, money, accumulated stuff, etc. We feel good about helping and maybe simplify our lives a bit in the process. Not a thing wrong with that, but I think there's more to service.

I think the answer might be in looking at the difficulty of being served ourselves. Most people are uncomfortable with accepting charity from others. Maybe it's our cultural upbringing, or maybe it's simple pride. We like to think we can do everything on our own. Given this predisposition, how would someone serve us best? Maybe if I can figure out the answer to that question I can serve others more effectively. After all, serving others is more about the needs of the other than it is about the service I give.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Suffering and Growth -- 1 Peter 4:12-13

 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. -- 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)

We talked about this passage this morning, and I had a thought or two on the discussion. Now this is not a deep treatise on the problem of pain or the nature of suffering. Just a few thoughts.

I'm wondering about how to "rejoice" as I participate in suffering. My general policy toward suffering is that it's something to be carefully avoided. I spend a lot of my time arranging my life to avoid pain and suffering in one way or another. Most of the advice I gave my children as they were growing up could be seen as a commentary on avoiding suffering in their lives. Even in the midst of the inevitable suffering that comes, the last thing on my mind is rejoicing.

It seems to me that the rejoicing might occur later, after I have survived the trial. Then I can sometimes look back and see how God used the pain to build me up or to prune off some harmful parts.

I wonder if we're harmed by the pain-avoidance we've all learned growing up. We're taught to avoid suffering in our own lives, to alleviate it in the lives of others, and avoid causing even small offenses that might cause pain.

Might the church be healthier if life were a bit more painful?

I don't think I want to know.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Beginnings - Genesis 1:1-3:24

A lot of people set out in January to read through the Bible. Many get bogged down in February or March and never finish. I have done the same thing on several occasions with mixed results, sometimes finishing, sometimes not. This year you'll all get to see how far I get!

Genesis is of course about beginning. The thing that strikes me today is how pleasant everything was in Eden to start with. God created everything just right, carefully making it all work together as it should. What a contrast to our world where little if anything seems to work together. It's easy to blame Adam for messing things up, or blame Eve for leading him astray, or blame the serpent for tempting them...and they do blame each other this way. The truth is, we can't have true freedom without accepting the consequences of our own mistakes, and the mistakes of others. Without the ability to sin, the choice to love God is missing also. God really did create everything just as he intended.