Happy Friday...Sunday's comin'!
Hope you have a great weekend and Lord's Day worshiping with God's people!
A Matter of Attention
Well, Spring is here and summer is on the way. (At least I think it is.) And guess what else is here. Less, shorter, lower, tighter, more, smaller. If you want to know the nouns that go with the adjectives: material, shorts & skirts, tops, clothes, skin, bathing suits. And I've probably already upset someone. But I think it's important to talk about. There is MUCH that could be said, but I want to focus here on attention.
Dads: your wife and daughters need attention. The right kind. From you. They need your love and affection and care and provision and leadership and protection. It has to start with the men. We live in a society where the definition of marriage is apparently up for grabs, many dads are absentee, some kids don't even know who their father is, some fathers are workaholics and fail to spend time with their kids and wife, and other dads are around but don't know or just don't care about how to treat their wife and daughters. Is it any wonder in a society full of father failure that girls are looking for attention somewhere else? Well, no; that's not a surprise. So how do they get that attention?
Culture says and shows that to dress a certain way (see paragraph 1) brings attention. Never mind that it's the wrong kind of attention. Never mind that it comes from guys who would like to use your body for a night and then be done with you. Never mind that the kind of attention that comes - lustful, temporary, selfish - is the opposite of the kind of attention a father should give - truly loving, permanent, and selfless. Never mind that the a faithful father's attention is a reflection of that of Christ: selfless, never-failing love that is concerned for the well being of the object of that attention. But guess what. Culture is right. You'll get attention. Sadly, we notice.
But guys, let's not pretend like we have the moral high ground. The way a woman dresses is no excuse to give this kind of attention to her. Every lingering glance at the woman that just walked by reinforces the wrong kind of attention getting. Every lust induced search for trash online contributes to an industry that promotes the wrong kind of attention getting and giving. Look a girl in the eyes; show concern for her heart, her well-being; have a real conversation with her. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church (gave himself up for her; not used her for his own desires).
And ladies. Which kind of attention do you want? If you have a dad or a husband who has loved you well, praise God and be content! If you want easy, selfish attention, understand what kind of guys will give you that attention. It's not the kind of guy who will show you true, lasting, selfless love and affection. He's potentially your worst nightmare. But girls, don't give up hope: "...let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." (1 Peter 3:4) By God's grace put some of that on when you get up in the morning. And even if no man has ever paid you the right kind of attention; even if you don't have a dad or he's distant, there is a heavenly Father paying attention to you. He is mighty to save. Does he have your attention?
It is increasingly rare in our world to be seeking and giving the right kind of attention. Will we be part of the problem or solution?
A Night at the Game
Well I wasn't expecting that. Last night we were out for a little fun at a Fort Wayne Tincaps baseball game. Ok, so it was actually at the Silverhawks stadium in South Bend, but we're Tincaps people. It was my wife, Erin, and I and our 2 oldest boys. At the game, they had a little boy and his dad come out to run the bases - homerun for life or something. The boy had gone to Memorial Hospital with croup and they saved his life after he stopped breathing, his heart stopped and lungs collapsed. But there he was down on the field happy and healthy running the bases and high-fiving both teams who lined the 1st and 3rd baselines; pretty cool thing. There was moving music and on the jumbotron there was a video of various folks from the hospital speaking. All of sudden there was a familiar face - a dear woman we know as Dr. O. (Her name is Dr. Okinlami.) And at this point the wheels began to come off. I looked over at Erin and tears were welling up in her eyes, and I may or may not have been a little choked up myself. Erin was hugging son #2 - Andrew - close and we were both trying to tell him that that's the doctor that took care of him.
See when my 2nd son was 3 weeks old he contracted RSV. I won't give you all the details, but after the staff at Community Hospital of Bremen saved his life, he was taken to Memorial Hospital of South Bend where he would spend 9 days in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). The doctor that met us there that night was Dr. Okinlami and she remained his primary doctor for those 9 days. She and the excellent staff there kept our son breathing and alive.
So when we heard the little guy's story at the game and saw him running the bases tonight and then saw Dr. O. and realized we're sitting enjoying a baseball game with this 9 year old boy who almost didn't make it past 3 weeks old. Well, that puts things in perspective. The moment passed and we had a fun (and cold) evening at the game.
What's this little story about our unexpected night at the ball park doing a church's blog? It was a sweet reminder of God's faithfulness to us. God saved my son's life. But God uses means. God used the staff in the Bremen hospital ER to stabalize the little man. And he used Dr. Okinlami and the others at the Memorial PICU to keep him breathing and eventually make him well. And God is still in the business of using people and places like that: witness the little boy running the bases last night. Often God's blessings flow to us through the instrumentality of people around us. Watch for them; thank them when God uses them to be a blessing to you and rejoice when he uses them to be a blessing to others. And when God blesses you, praise him and make sure to tell people about it...which is what I'm doing here. Psalm 40:9-10 "I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold I have not restrained my lips, as you know O LORD. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation."
Scythians and You
Who were the Scythians and why does it matter? Well, for several reasons, but first of all, they're mentioned in the Bible. Colossians 3:11 "Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free, but Christ is all, and in all."
The Scythians were a barbaric people known for their brutal practices in war. One Greek lexicon says of them: "living in the region of the Black Sea, frequently viewed as the epitome of unrefinement or savagery." The ESV Study Bible says, "To the Greeks, the Scythians were a violent, uneducated uncivilized, and altogether inferior people." It seems they were known for beards and tattoos. How much of this was still true by the time of the New Testament, we don't know.
But when I saw this recent article by Russel Moore, I thought of the Scythians (I think because I once heard a preacher talk about Scythians as having tattoos, and if I recall correctly he had thoughts similar to what you're about to read here). Anyway, they were not the sort of folks you'd want your kids hanging around. You probably wouldn't invite them to your dinner party or backyard barbecue. If you saw them coming down the sidewalk, you'd cross to the other side of the street or maybe more likely run for your life. Bad dudes.
But Paul says that they have a place among the people of God through Christ. Not unchanged, of course. The context (Col. 3:1-17) is about putting to death your sin and putting on the new man. The church should be a place full of repentant sinners striving for greater likeness to Christ. But what would you do if a Scythian walked in one Sunday? It's clear he's not there to harm the church goers (he left his bow, barbed and poison tipped arrows, and battle ax in the car), but is seeking truth. We give him the truth, right? And as he comes to faith and works out the remnants of his Scythianism, figuring out what is legitimately cultural and what is sinful, we sit next to him in the pew and walk with him through those choices. Always with careful discernment, but not with holier-than-thou self-righteousness or cruelty.
Do we really believe that Scythians (or drunks or murderers or sex addicts or fill in the blank with whatever sort of sinner is most repulsive to you) can be saved? It won't be easy and again, we must exercise discernment. But if we really believe that unrepentant sinners will not inherit the kingdom of God we'll make a way to welcome seeking Scythians and show them the love of Christ and his power to save and transform. Jesus is the only uniting, common ground; it's only in him that people of radically different backgrounds can be radically saved and then worship together in the same church! Scythians need to hear that message, and messy as it may be, the church must be the ones to share that message. If we act like a bunch of self-righteous Pharisees and reject them, we're our own special kind of Scythian - cruel and barbaric to leave lost sinners floundering in the dark when we could point them to the light of the Savior.
Friday Fragments Five
Here we go again. Enjoy!
Watching that got me to wondering...Isn't every pregnancy announcement and subsequent excitement an eloquent testimony to life...before birth?
I like to learn new things. I also like sports. And I like to see connections between things that may not on the surface have much in common (like Christianity and hockey). Or maybe I like to stretch things a bit to find imaginary connections...anyway. This morning on the treadmill at the Y, I apparently still had enough oxygen getting to my brain for something to register while taking in Sportscenter.
If you don't know anything about hockey, you might want to skip this paragraph, or maybe stick with it and learn something new. A team gets a power play when the opposing team has to send one skater off the ice to the penalty box for committing, well, a penalty. So for the duration of the power play one team has a one man advantage - a great opportunity to score. However, as I learned this morning while pounding the (figurative) pavement, it can also create an advantage for the team defending against the power play. With all of the focus for the power play team on attacking the opposing team's goal, when the penalty time expires the penalized player can slip out of the penalty box behind the defense who are not focused on defending their own goal. This creates an opportunity for a quick outlet pass and breakaway chance for the penalized team. To keep that from happening, the goalie of the power play team hits the ice with his stick to sound a warning that the penalty time is ending and the penalized player is returning to the ice. On Sportscenter I think I heard Barry Melrose refer to this as a beaver tail, though I'm having trouble verifying the terminology via Google. (Perhaps it's a Canadian thing; or maybe I didn't have as much O2 to the brain as I thought.)
So anyway, I learned something new about sports - cool! And then I began looking for a tenuous connection to something blog-worthy. Don't we all need a goalie in our lives to slap the ice and warn us every so often of something in our blind spot? Or don't you need to be that goalie for your brother or sister in Christ? Got a friend who's been a little too excited, a little too often about passing on "news" that sounds a little too much like gossip? Slap the ice for that person. Know a guy who's been too friendly with that girl who's not his wife? Beaver tail! Is there a dad who has been giving all of his attention and focus to work (in order to provide for his family!) but he's neglecting his kids? Give him a heads up. Someone straying from sound doctrine? Sound a warning.
Welcome back. Hope you have a great weekend!
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.
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