Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity."
-Leonard Ravenhill

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Misplaced dedication

This afternoon I was busy playing around on the Internet listening to sermons and watching, to be honest, Lady GaGa videos.  I put some clothes in the laundry and went back to goofing off.  Perhaps not sinful behavior, but certainly not "redeeming the time."  I took a shower and got dressed to go to a Gospel meeting tonight.  As I left the house to run some errands, I saw them. 
White button downs with black ties and backpacks.  Mormon missionaries. 
They were knocking on the door of a neighboring house that is empty.  I called to them and they walked over.  I explained the house was abandoned and they started their prepared speech.  I explained that I would love to talk with them but I was on my way out.  They asked my name and when I said Will, one of them said, "Will?  Will Norrid?  We know about you."

I studied with some LDS missionaries about a year ago and we had some good discussions, but I didn't know I had a file at headquarters apparently.  I told these new guys that I would enjoy having them in my home and they asked a time to return.  Hopefully good will come of our meeting.

I think about how I had basically wasted (prodigalized) a whole day just wasting time while these two guys were going door-to-door in the mud to share something important to them.  I had been dedicated to wasting time while they were dedicated to teaching something I believe false.  I think both they and I had a case of misplaced dedication: I should have been using my downtime more productively (like studying or reaching out to others) while their dedicated behavior is placed in something beyond what God desires.

It is not enough to merely possess the truth we must act on it and it is not enough to act without the truth.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why dost thou call Me good?

In the often rehearsed story of the rich young ruler, we mainly concentrate on the fact that at the end of the account the man goes away sad because he can't part with his money.  We emphasis the importance of giving up whatever stands in the way of serving Jesus.  An excellent point to make.  I am in total agreement.

Something we seldom mention is the opening exchange where the young man calls Jesus, "Good Teacher."  Jesus gives him a fairly sharp rebuke saying there is none good but God alone.  Since Jesus is God, why doesn't He just graciously accept the compliment?  Maybe Jesus sees that the young ruler is just trying to butter Him up.  Also, maybe Jesus is trying to deflect praise to His Father who sent Him.  From my perspective, Jesus is trying to tell the young man that anything good He does comes from God.  This is the exact way we as Christians should receive compliments today.  I admit compliments make me uncomfortable.  When someone says, "Great lesson" or "Good job"  I often think in my head, "It could have been so much better if I had...".  Perhaps a better track for me (and others) to take would be to deflect the praise to the Source of our work: a good and gracious God.

I am going to try to work on this in my life this next week...peace to you.

A question we all must face...

Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall,
Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all;
Hearken! what meaneth the sudden call?
What will you do with Jesus?

Chorus
What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”

Jesus is standing on trial still,
You can be false to Him if you will,
You can be faithful through good or ill:
What will you do with Jesus?

Will you evade him as Pilate tried?
Or will you choose Him, whate’er betide?
Vainly you struggle from Him to hide:
What will you do with Jesus?

Will you, like Peter, your Lord deny?
Or will you scorn from His foes to fly,
Daring for Jesus to live or die?
What will you do with Jesus?

“Jesus, I give Thee my heart today!
Jesus, I’ll follow Thee all the way,
Gladly obeying Thee!” will you say:
“This I will do with Jesus!”

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer..."
-Luke 22:15

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Missing the point...

I listened to a passionate sermon presentation on the Internet a little while ago.  The speaker was telling stories of anointing on the mission field and the dramatic need for preachers and ministers to feel the presence of God in their ministries.  Like most lessons, I didn't agree with everything contained in the sermon, but overall it was very uplifting and challenging.

My discouragement came when I began to read the comments on the sermon left by other listeners.  Two posters had gotten into an argument over whether or not the minister giving the sermon would have approved of the addition of a background music track to the sermon.  To be honest, I had not really even noticed the background music.  When listening again, all I could notice was the music.  Sometimes people are like that: the bring to the foreground what was never intended to be there.  I have been in worship services where a restoration or baptism occurs and instead of naturally rejoicing everyone present waits to see if anyone will clap or say "Amen."  The focus in such cases should not be on our response, but on the amazing event just witnessed. 

I was once visiting at a church camp and there were several baptisms that evening.  Some of the younger children began to applaud the baptisms.  In a particularly vicious comment toward the children, one of the men said we were not at a ballgame and clapping in that situation was not only offensive to some present but to God as well.  The emotion that the children wanted to convey was that of joy and celebration, but I doubt they remember anything except the rebuke.  Sadly, it is the only thing I remember about that baptismal celebration.

If you think this post is about background music or clapping, you have missed my point.  All I wish to point out is that the primary action in any situation is where the vast majority of attention should be placed.  Listen to what the man says and quickly dismiss an accent or style of clothing.  Witness what conversion and the communion really mean and overlook minor issues that surround the customs.  I never want it to be said of me that I majored in minors and minored in majors.  Let that phrase not be used about our lives in service to the LORD.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Something to think about...

One day at a time...

Today was a fairly productive day as my days generally go.  I went to my appointment in Memphis, made some necessary phone calls and even sent cards to some sick friends.  I also wrote two letters to my Compassion child in Ecuador.  I had received three letters from him over the last couple of weeks and sent him some Tennessee postcards and letters about what spring is like here in the U.S.A.

I made a couple of trips up into Western Kentucky last week.  One advantage of having a GPS is that you can, after rambling down back roads all morning, just put in "Home" and arrive safely back in your own driveway.

Springtime is always a difficult season for me.  I generally have more energy than in the winter, but sometimes sleeping becomes a problem which leads to fatigue and irritability.  I would have to say that, although I love the flowers, spring is my least favorite season.  This is particularly true due to the fact that we in West Tennessee often have a false spring with warm days turning back into winter weather.  This repeats several times and is taxing on making outdoor plans or planning trips.

I hope that spring is here to stay at last and soon the storms will pass and lead us into all the fun activities of the late spring and summer.  We will get there-one day at a time.

The photo is from my trip to Kentucky last Tuesday.  The gravel road had turned muddy, but I went far enough to snap this picture.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why did Jesus come to earth?

I was recently watching YouTube videos to get some ideas on how to start conversations with people about Jesus.  One of the videos suggested just straight out asking people a question about God or faith and then pursuing a conversation based on that person's answer.  One video showed kids answering the question, "Why did Jesus come to earth?"  The majority of kids parroted answers they had no doubt heard in Sunday School ("To die on the cross" and "to wash away sins" were common answers).  One young girl paused for a moment and said, "To see what it was like."

Her answer is no less true than the others and perhaps more so.  Why did God Eternal clothe Himself in human flesh?  Certainly to be our atoning sacrifice was a major reason, but I don't believe that is the only thing God desired from coming in human form.  In Bethlehem, God breathed our air for the first time.  He learned what it was like to feel the wind on His face and cool water against His lips.  He learned what it was like to be admired and also rejected.  He experienced the broadest range of human emotions: friendship, loss, grief, laughter and joy.  God learned by His experiences as a man.  I believe strongly that it is because of Jesus that we receive Divine mercy.  Not just because of His sacrifice but because He knows how it feels to not receive it.  The Hebrew writer records that "...He learned obedience by the things which He suffered..."  It is not in the nature of God to be obedient for He has no one to obey.  Christ in learning obedience shows that He gave up all-encompassing power and became truly human for to be human is to be free to choose whether or not to be obedient.

I don't know why God chose to offer Himself for us in a plan that was conceived even before it was needed.  I chose to believe He did such because He knew that we would be afraid and lonely, and so He became afraid and lonely along with us.  I do not believe man could have simply imagined the God of the Bible and Jesus as some scholars suggest.  Had we invented Him, we would have made Him even more out-of-touch than He sometimes seems.  No, God is real and the reality is that He is not far from any of us.  He is in the hand we touch, the eyes we meet, the voice we hear.

Praise be to God that He "wanted to see what it was like."

The beach

Ever since I was a kid riding around in my dad's truck with Jimmy Buffet's Songs You Know By Heart playing, I have longed to run away to the beach.  St. Augustine, Destin, Garachine Pacific...I have always thought it would be great to live in a little tiki hut and eat coconut shrimp as a food group.  It has been several years since I have been to a warm weather beach and I am looking forward to my upcoming family excursion to the Emerald Coast of Florida.  Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney in the CD player and hours of soaking up sunshine are just the cure after the cold, dreary winter we had this year.

In addition to the sheer fun of being a beach bum, looking out on the ocean reminds us of how infinitely small we are as individuals on this planet.  God's promise to Abraham was to give him descendants like grains of sand and stars in the sky.  Being outside on the beach and feeling a cool breeze mixed with warm sunshine is a great place to see how vast God's creation really is.  Somehow, in that vastness, we each individually are important and cared for.

Excited about seeing the sea!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The relationship dynamics of Little Women

In Louisa May Alcott's novel, Little Women, she tells the semi-autobiographical story of the Transcendental lives of a New England family.  At the center of the drama is the relationship between the four sisters of the March family.  Every person who reads the novel has a favorite among the sisters and I confess my affectionate changes allegiance each time I read the novel or see one of the film versions.  Fictional characters are great to have relationships with: you control their behavior and they are custom fitted to your interpretations of them.  At different points in my life I have loved each of the March sisters.  For those of you who think this strange, just imagine having a crush on Beiber or Britney Spears except in a much more classy, literary way.

  • Meg.  The oldest and most practical March sister.  She helps Marmee with the younger sisters and eventually marries the equally practical Mr. Brook.  Meg is motherly and what guy doesn't occasionally want someone to take care of him?
  • Jo.  The star of the novel, Jo is adventurous, intelligent, daring, emotional and dramatic.  Every guy wants to date a Jo at least once in his life.  She is full of passion and desire and always looking for adventure.  The problem arises in the fact that she is a workaholic and will always outshine her man in public.
  • Beth.  Beth is the sister with the tender heart.  She is frail and kind and plays a hauntingly good piano.  Beth of course dies in the novel.  Many men want to date a Jo and then marry a Beth.
  • Amy.  Spoiled and childish at first, she grows up to marry Teddy who initially loved Jo.  Amy is high maintenance and knows it.  She always wanted to marry for money and does.  Amy is the "mean girl" that, while you don't like her attitude she is an object of desire as well.
I would say in my life I have dated all four types of March and found good and bad in all of them.  Jo-like women will always be the ones I fall for, but I love the sweetness of a Beth, the sturdiness of a Meg and the challenge of an Amy.  None is perfect, but it makes for a perfect story and a perfect setting for a literary crush.

Everyone wants to date a Jo and then marry a Meg or a Beth.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Memory

Memory is a strange aspect of the human experience.  Often we cannot remember good experiences as we wish, yet we cannot forget mistakes or bad feeling we once knew.

I was talking on the way home from Bible study tonight about some pleasant college memories.  I often forget, in the haze of memory, that I had some wonderful times in college.  I was popular and enjoyed lots of activities with people my own age.  That seems strange now because almost all my time is spent with people older than I.  I miss having friends of my own age and experience.  If I would go back I would capture certain moments, friends and feelings:

  • All the great nights spent at the little brick duplex on Crook Avenue.  I was so in love with every girl that lived in that house.  Luckily, they all avoided my advances and all are happily married.
  • The trip to Columbia/Mt.Pleasant during my sophomore year.  I never felt so accepted by people my own age as I did by Boo, Aarek, Chantel, Allison, Heather, April, Stacey and all the other friends that made that trip so memorable.
  • The New England summer course.  Monica, Jeremy and Rachel (plus Drs. John and Margaret) made this trip amazing despite the cramped conditions and continual playing of Backstreet Boys.
  • Paul Gray Hall and guys like Scott, Jeremy, Brandon, Daniel, Travis, Adam, Stephen, Zack, Joseph, C-Hump and Cason.
  • Bible class at Estes.  Thanks Jesse, Jason and Mark.
  • Bell's Drive-In.  Best Hamburger in the state.  Really.
  • Jack's Creek Bar-b-que.
  • Intramurals.  I loved single A sports and I played for three different clubs (2 of which dissolved later).
So many more memories could be named.  I have come to realize that while parts of my college experience were stressful and dismal, much of the time was fun.  I chose to remember the good and hope my memory of the less than good will fade away.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Childhood history

When I was a child, my parents often took me to national and state parks particularly those surrounding the Civil War era.  As a young child I became involved with Civil War reenacting and participated for several years as a powder bearer (Powder Monkey) for Company K of the Tennessee Artillery, C.S.A. based out of Fort Pillow, TN.  From the time I realized some of the political and social ramifications of the Civil War, I became self-conscious about "fighting" for the Southern cause.  I loved the camp life and the older men that participated each weekend and I learned much about history, but I also learned that some people had not learned from the mistakes of our ancestors.  As I grew older and learned more, my heart was torn between my modern day sympathies and the knowledge that had I been a boy in Tennessee in 1861 I would have probably felt differently.

No amount of study could erase the admiration I felt for Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, and yet, I also greatly admired Elisha P. Lovejoy, Frederick Douglass, Robert Gould Shaw and Abraham Lincoln.  My heart was divided at such a tender age over something that happened so long ago.  I still believe I would have struggled with secession as many in Tennessee did and given the climate of the times I am sure the choice of blue or gray would have been difficult and, in the end, perhaps deadly.

Enjoy some remembrances from the master of Civil War historians, Shelby Foote.

Friday, April 8, 2011

First love

As promised yesterday, I am using "blogstarters" to give me inspiration to write here on a daily basis.

Today's blogstarter is: Tell about your first love.

Love is a difficult concept for me.  I am not always sure the difference in infatuation, like and love.  For most of my elementary and middle school years, I was in one of those three with a girl named Kelli.  She always seemed to have a boyfriend (one of which eventually became her husband), but I followed her around, sent her notes and bought her small gifts.  An innocent pastime bordering on friendly obsession. 

My freshman year of high school I really fell hard for a girl named Ginger.  She was a senior, smart, fun and basically just totally awesome.  We never dated as such, but the few minutes we spent together at school and at school-related activities made my freshman year.  She cried on my shoulder about boys and I was always there to listen.  She grew up and became a successful massage therapist.

By the time I got to college, I was ready (or so I thought) to really start dating and finding "the one."  I had my first real kiss my freshman year and dated several people those two semesters.  The fairly lengthy first reciprocated boyfriend-girlfriend relationship I was in came during my sophomore year.  S. was (and is) a wonderful person.  I can still remember the first time I told her I loved her.  We were at a church retreat her home congregation was having at some camp in Alabama.  We lay out under the stars and I was pretending to tell her a story about another couple and eventually got around to telling her I loved her.  I remember she cried which was unexpected.  We were voted cutest couple that semester, but by Christmas I was (as I always seem to be) scared of commitment.  A lot of our friends were settling in with the people they would eventually marry and I was terrified.  I broke things off with S. and eventually she married a great guy, has a great career and is expecting her first child.

I have loved a couple of other people since that time, but those experiences are still a little fresh to write about and, after all, this entry is about first love.

Have a great day!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

To make myself blog more...

In an effort to blog more consistently, I am going to allow myself to talk more about me and less about just faith issues and abstract concepts.  I am not sure how many people read this blog anymore, and I toyed with the idea of creating a new one, but since I own the domain and still like the overall feel, I am staying here.

I am going to blog more about the personal aspects of my life and hope that the writing will be therapeutic.  I "borrowed" a list of blog starters to give me some direction and will be working from that list to start with.

If you are still reading, enjoy!

All the chapel bells are ringing...

Over the last couple of days I have been writing out two different wedding ceremonies that I am going to perform in the next few months.  Both are young couples from the Lebanon congregation where I preach and I am excited that they each have asked me to share their special event.
I am one of those people that usually cry at weddings, births, funerals and baptisms.  I just find milestone moments in life both sad and happy at the same time.  These two couples, for example, will be leaving behind a measure of freedom that they have had and exchanging it for the responsibilities of marriage.  Of course great blessings also come with marriage that are not available to them as single people.  It is hard for me to realize that a great number of my friends are married and many of them are having children.  Life certainly moves fast and the days have seemed to speed up lately.
I am just hanging on for the ride!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
-Aesop