Earthquakes


My wife advised me recently that she wanted to see a movie. We reviewed the choices and I was somewhat surprised that she chose San Andreas, an earthquake disaster movie. As is true far too often, she made a wise decision. It was a fun couple of hours as we watched huge shifts in the earth’s substructure cause massive destruction. I’m not sure what it says about us that we enjoy watching mass destruction but there you have it.

One of the lines in the movie struck me. The quake expert, when asked about whether a massive earthquake was possible responded, “It’s not a question of ‘if’ but of ‘when.'”

Doesn’t it seem to you that something massive is going to happen? Doesn’t it seem like it will be sooner than later?

I also like the “tags” used to market the movie, “Where will  you be? Who will you be with?” I guess it should be “whom” but it’s Hollywood not Harvard.

If something massive is about to happen, I know with whom I wish to be. I’m not sure where I’m suppose to be. I hope that clears up soon.

Massive shifts seem inevitable. Things are at a tipping point. They can’t keep going the way that they are. That’s obviously true economically and politically, both nationally and internationally. I think it’s also true of the Church.

I don’t think I’m alone when I note that the Body of Christ doesn’t look at all like Christ.

Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God and He referred to love, humility, and service. Since Constantine, the church seems to be more about pride, and power and control. We, the church, talk about separation of Church and State, but we mean leave us alone to do what we want. What we seem to want is to be in control. That’s not working. That doesn’t sound like Jesus’ plan.

It seems that what has become the church is less relevant than ever when the Kingdom Christ called for is needed more than ever. I don’t know about you, but I think I need to go back to basics. I think I need to reconsider what it means to be a Christian. I’ve already decided that term doesn’t work any more. I need to go  back and read the words in red in the gospels, the things that Jesus said. I need to forget about what we assume church is about and learn what the Kingdom is supposed to be about. I need to hear Jesus say “Follow Me” and know, maybe for the first time, exactly what that means. I don’t think it means what I’ve thought for sixty-six years.

It’s not “if” but “when.” Whom will I be with? Where will I be?

 

Powerwaves

I have been a member at the Fontana Center since my knee replacement surgery in 2012. I am the kind of member that makes these places possible. I have a couples membership and hadn’t been at the facility for years until last week. They have to love monthly fee payments from people like me who write a check every month saying, “I’m going to go this month” but don’t.

Several factors sent me back. I lost 15 pounds between checkups. I swam with my grandkids on vacation. I remembered there was a pool at the Center. So on Monday I began my “get healthy” campaign. I went to “work out” every day this week. It’s been great. I’ve lost another 5.2 pounds. I have been more relaxed, had more energy and have been sleeping great.

The one thing I hadn’t done is join any of the many classes that are offered at the Center. The timing just wasn’t right. However, I noticed that there was a PowerWaves class on Saturday mornings at a good time. I should have noticed a couple of things. First, the name, PowerWaves. That should have been a tip off. Second, it’s a ninety-minute class. Most classes are an hour. Nevertheless I showed up at 9:01. The picture above is not the actual class. (After all I may want to go back one day) The picture is representative in terms of age and friendliness of the group. In other words, I was not intimidated. I hopped in the water and joined right in. The class is essentially an hour and a half of non-stop movement in four feet of water with a persistent instructor pushing you on. The first half hour was fun, although I should have taken more seriously the question I was asked by a fellow participant, “Is this your first water aerobics class?” Guess I wasn’t doing as well as I thought.

The second half hour was more trying. I can’t tell you what the last half hour was like because I quit after an hour. I see there is an “Easy Does It” class. That may be more my style, at least for now.

My hat is off to the Saturday morning PowerWaves group. You may not look tough, but you are. Happy PowerWaving.

Is there something you know you should be doing? It might be an exercise program, or participation in a share group. It might be spending more time in prayer or in the word. It might be any number of things that you know would make your life better for you and for others. Start slow if you must, but start.

I see there’s no PowerWave class next week because of the Fourth of July weekend. Too bad.

Agree with this, or better yet disagree? I love to speak to small groups about the things I post. I can talk to your entire church or small group, your breakfast or supper club (do we still have those?).  No charge of course, except the one I get out of doing it. However, if food is involved I will stay later. Email me, I dare you.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

 

A New Reality

It was a strange coincidence that I learned about the Supreme Court’s decision on Gay Marriage while distributing this month’s Covenant Spotlight magazine.  Part of the focus of this month’s issue is “Church and State.” Talk about good timing.

Let me begin by saying that, as a lawyer and as a Christian, I believe the decision is legally wrong. The reasons are many and others are better than I at articulating them. I’d like to offer something else. I’m hoping and praying that this decision will shake up the Christian community and maybe not in the way you might expect.

Move on. I think in many ways some of us Christians need to move on. The whole “gay rights” thing has occupied a ton of “Christian” energy and focus. It has distorted the view of many in the church as well as the view of many on the outside about the church. I understand the concern about societal changes. I understand all about sin. I am way too personally familiar with sin.  I’m not saying there are not important issues here. I am saying these are not the only issues. These issues deserve some, but not all, of our focus and energy.

The Founding Fathers are all dead. I’m tired of hearing about the “Founding Fathers” and whether they were Christians and what role they intended for God in the new nation. History is very important and we should make every effort to make sure that it is passed on accurately. America in 2015 is not the same country that Washington and Jefferson knew. In some ways, it’s a better place, but not in every way. Get over it. We need to deal with the reality that most of our fellow citizens are not followers of Christ. We are not helping to change that by our ranting and raving. Jesus had a plan. We should stick to it. Hint: It doesn’t involve courts, politicians or police.

Read the Book.  We need to read the book. It all turns out great in the end, but there is much high adventure, persecution, and, yes, tribulation, before the hero rides in, literally, on His white horse. Rejoice when you suffer. Better get use to it. Suffering is ahead. “10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5

Focus on the right Kingdom. Jesus was all about the Kingdom of Heaven; he left earthly kingdoms to their own devices. Of course Christians should be involved in politics. They shouldn’t, however, be foolish enough to think that’s how the world will be changed. Jesus’ plan was to change one heart at a time, by spiritual transformation, not political persuasion. Historically, the church has been least effective when it’s been the most political.

Look in the mirror.  I think we need to spend a lot more time considering our own sin than we spend on the sins of others. Pointing out “public” sins is a cheap way of making ourselves feel better about the darkness in our own souls. Let’s just cut that out. Conviction is helpful and self focused. Judgment. . .not so much. Everyone has sinned and fallen short. It’s not helpful to try to rank our sins compared with others. It’s way too subjective a standard. Sin looks a lot bigger at a distance.

Let’s really separate Church and State. I have a brother who I love like crazy. I am happy for him this morning that his partnership with someone whom he has been with for almost as long as I’ve been with my wife, will now be legally recognized nationwide. He didn’t ask me to perform a ceremony. He knows where I stand. I can separate what the “state” recognizes as marriage from what I think God recognizes. We can agree to disagree. There are lots of people I don’t think should be married and only a few of them are same-sex.

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16  It’s time to be smart. It’s time to prepare our organizations to deal with the many legal challenges they will face in a Post-Christian nation. There, I’ve said it. Christians and Christian organizations need to be ready to work in a society that doesn’t support our goals, understand our theology, or love us. We need to prayerfully consider exactly where we stand on these issues. Not all of us will stand on exactly the same spot. Then we need to be ready to defend out spot. Finally, we need to make sure we are more focused on following Jesus than we are at defending spots, or frowning at others.

Time is short. Resources are limited. Our mission should be focused. Let’s make sure we are spending resources wisely. If I failed to upset you, hang around, there’s always tomorrow.

Agree with this, or better yet disagree? I love to speak to small groups about the things I post. I can talk to your entire church or small group, your breakfast or supper club (do we still have those?).  No charge of course, except the one I get out of doing it. However, if food is involved I will stay later. Email me, I dare you.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

 

Sleeping with the Enemy

I sleep with my phone. I don’t mean I sleep with it on the nightstand. I sleep with it. It’s in the bed with me. It’s attached to me by headphones. How weird is that? Now on the positive, I do that partly so I can go to sleep listening to music and, yes, it is mostly praise music. Yet I have to wonder if I’m sleeping with the enemy.

For example, today I woke at three a.m. and immediately started tapping icons on my phone. I quickly came across this article, Six Wrong Reasons to Check Your Phone in the Morning.  That’s kind of eye-opening when you are checking your phone at three in the morning. The article was pretty good. In summary, the author feels there are three “candy” reasons and three “avoidance” reasons that it’s wrong to check your phone in the morning.

In the “candy” group are:

  1. Novelty Candy. We want to know what’s new and we want to be one of the first to know so that we can be tellers and not “tellees.”

  2. Ego Candy. We want to know if someone “liked” us. Did we get reposted or retweeted. Did someone comment on our blog? It’s “like” getting a kiss. Nice way to start the day.

  3. Entertainment Candy. The weirdest stuff gets posted on the internet. Things that are funny, amazing and, yes, entertaining.

  4. Boredom Avoidance. Face it. Most of our lives are boring. We aren’t excited about jumping out of bed to face pretty much the same non-exciting stuff we faced yesterday and the day before.

  5. Responsibility Avoidance. We all have someone expecting something from us, many of us several someones. It’s tough. It may be where great satisfaction lives, but we aren’t particularly eager to take up those crosses.

  6. Hardship Avoidance. Sometimes there are real issues facing us. Most of us, at least sometimes, are in the middle of something hard. We’re not excited about jumping back into it, whatever “it” is.

I have to admit relating to all six reasons. None of them, however, are the biggest reason it’s wrong to start our day checking our phone.

Last night I attended our Wednesday night prayer and teaching session at Amana. I have to admit I wasn’t there primarily for the teaching. I needed some time in prayer and with other believers. When the teaching started I sat in the back and was, frankly, pretty distracted. When I got home I couldn’t tell my wife, without real thought, what verses were covered or if the pastor finally finished the chapter. I did come away with this: Our purpose as Christians still here on earth is getting to know more about our God. He is a wonder whose unfolding will be a life-long process. It’s a process that gives our lives real meaning, motivation and joy. Checking the phone doesn’t do that. Shouldn’t we start our day focused on Him and not on intentional distraction?

Yes, our pastor did finish Chapter 11 of Romans. It ends like this:

Doxology

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.

You can’t get that from checking  your phone. Thanks Pastor and thank you, God for giving us more reasons to get up each morning than just to check our phones.

MachoMan

I have these periodic compulsions to take on “manly” projects. I guess it’s an attempt to prove my manhood in a society that doesn’t give a lot of such opportunities. Recently it was my “cable” project. I decided that all of the paraphernalia that comes with cable service, and which had for years been in my upstairs office at home, needed to be in our den. I boldly disconnected every device attached to the cable. I bravely moved the modem, wi-fi, ATT signal booster, TiVo,  signal attenuator, and telephone connection to the den. There are now miles of cables in the room. I insist that just because the “cable” guy has paid many visits to our home since my project began, this is not because of any inadequacy in my project execution.  After several weeks, we now have fully functioning television, phone, internet and security service, like we used to have when it was all upstairs. I feel very macho.

The feeling doesn’t last so just a couple of hours after the cable man left I felt the need for a new project. We have done major work in our yard, tearing down the kids’ rotting playhouse, removing landscape timbers, trimming bushes and trees. This created a huge trash pile. I decided that it was time to burn as much of the trash as was burnable. I bought fire starter fluid, a new lighter and torched the trash pile. I was undeterred that it was the hottest afternoon of the summer. I hauled piles of trash into the inferno. I consumed “gallons” of tea to fight off dehydration. I burned a significant amount of trash before I burned out.

Like Smoky the Bear I put out the dwindling fire and doused it with plenty of water. Feeling much satisfied, I went into the air-conditioned house to savor my manly afternoon. It should have all ended there, but moments later the most vicious line of thunderstorms to hit the area this year arrived. I glanced outside to note that the winds had stirred up the burn pile and it was burning brightly. My attempts to water it down were useless. I had visions of those news reports that we see each summer as valiant fire fighters try to save acres of California wilderness. I figured it would start raining soon. That’s what always saves the California situation. It didn’t rain. The wind kept blowing and lightning began. It knocked the power out and since we have a well, my source of water stopped. I was helpless against the renewed burn pile. All I could do was watch and pray for rain. Although it rained plenty and nearly everywhere yesterday afternoon, it didn’t rain in my yard, not enough to put out the “raging” burn pile fire. I ended up having to load two five gallon water containers into the back of my truck and drown the flames with the contents before the rains finally came. Since the power was out I then had to sit in the dark, smelling of smoke, waiting for the power to come back on so I could shower. I ended up taking my wife out to dinner since we had no power, smelling of smoke and looking like the failed Smoky the Bear I am.

I hope it’s a while before I have another Macho Man compulsion. I would like to think I’m cured, but deep down I know I’m not. I know intellectually I can do nothing without Christ. I guess I need an occasional dramatic demonstration, just so it sinks in. I think I get it, at least for now.