We all know the feeling
of being shocked by something. Maybe you
received word that a loved one had been in an accident or perhaps you found out
you had won a prize in a drawing. The
sensation of being shocked or surprised by something is hard to explain, but we
know it when we feel it. The reason this
feeling is different is because it is out of the ordinary. Since we normally have a routine and a
schedule to our lives, anything that disrupts that monotony surprises us. What would happen if you received shocking
news everyday? Chances are that after
awhile you would begin to expect the jarring news and things that were once
shocking would become ordinary. You would
become desensitized to the same news that once brought a rush of emotions and
adrenaline. You would no longer feel the
excitement you once felt.
Sometimes this same
scenario plays out with our habits of Bible study. When we first dip into the Word, the stories
there shock and amaze us. We want to
know more and so we continue to study.
Unfortunately, sometimes the excitement that we had at first begins to
fade. Stories that once brought a sense
of adventure and excitement become just words on a page to us. I would encourage you to try and approach the
Bible with fresh eyes each time you read it.
Try to imagine the accounts as if you had never heard them before. When you do this, “new” information that has
been there all along will come to your attention. We are more likely to continue studying the
Bible if we find it exciting and enjoyable.
Why not commit yourself to beginning/continuing a Bible study practice
in the week ahead?
Not exactly Broadway, but nonetheless two legends singing a counterpoint duet. Streisand was 21 in 1963 when this was filmed for The Judy Garland Show. Wouldn't you have loved to have seen these two as leads in your favorite Broadway show? Have a great weekend!
“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”
Linda Eder performs the song, "Electricity," from Billy Elliot. The song is a description of how the title character feels when he dances. This taping is called Hallelujah Broadway and was filmed inside a church in Prague a few years ago. All the songs which made up the show are of an emotional/spiritual nature. All the performances are available on YouTube.
Tomorrow is it. St. Valentine's Day. A day for candy hearts and teddy bears and roses. A day when many grade-school kids will get their feelings hurt and a few others will feel truly special. Men who are not romantic any other day of the year will (maybe) remember to do something special for the person they love. Many women will try not to expect too much and will anyway. Florists, fancy restaurants and jewelers will work nonstop pumping love-spent dollars into the veins of our global economy.
I started out to write an article about how God's love transcends these small expressions of our love for one another, yet I am coming to realize that in these visible signs of love (and the feelings that prompt them) God is choosing to reveal Himself to us through other people. Regardless of our age or gender or faith, we all have a desire to feel chosen and cared for and special. As we live in community, hopefully people are loving us in ways that help us meet our emotional and spiritual needs. We must also come to know that we are placed in the lives of others to provide tangible evidence of the love of God both by loving others and allowing ourselves to be loved.
Tomorrow for some is a day of great excitement. For others, it will be a day of disappointment. We as people need not wait until special occasions to show love. Love is more than holidays and hugs. Love is the day in and day out working out of our lives with one another. Love is making mistakes and also cherishing small successes. Love is regretting something you left unsaid and resolving to get it right the next time. Love is truly listening to another person in order to know his/her perspective. Love is smiling at cashiers and tipping waiters. Love is giving of yourself expecting nothing in return. Love is being ok with finishing second. Love is sometimes being willing to do something uncomfortable or tiring or a little bit boring. Love is getting lost and finding your way home again. Love is both frightening and reassuring. Love is tender affection and honest communication combined. Love is wanting to know more and being willing to ask questions. Love is being strong enough to be intimate and vulnerable enough to be known.
Don't let anyone convince you that the only love that matters is the kind you don't have. Valentine's Day for many is an opportunity for an expression of what they already feel. The feeling of romantic love is a wonderful, God-given sensation. In reality, however, showing love is more about a thousand simple choices made daily than flowers sent once a year. Love, regardless of its object, is best when proven over time and trouble and trial. This is true not only in our love for one another but also in our love for God and in our love for ourselves. Because we are made in the image of God, we are made in the image of perfect love. Our struggle then is to be open enough and honest enough to reveal ourselves and our love to one another. I have come to realize that love is being willing to take chances. The chance to reveal a part of yourself to another can be dangerous. When we love, we run the risk of being hurt. I hope you find, as I have, the rewards of love are worth that risk.
Starting now, choose love. In big and fancy ways (if that is your style) but also in each decision of the day. Truly be for people and live your life as a blessing to others. One of the greatest aspects of love is that it can forget itself and turn all that it is into blessing another. When we lose ourselves in love, we celebrate God's imprint on our lives. May you both give love and know love now and always.
This month marks the start of the ninth year I have spent in ministry with my brothers and sisters at the Lebanon church of Christ in Dresden, TN. The times we have shared together have been precious and beautiful and I am thankful to have been blessed with this great opportunity for ministry. We are a church of flawed and failed people who are coming to realize the power of the forgiveness and mercy of God on a daily basis.
The church at Lebanon has been gracious and kind to me in so many ways. They have continued to stick by me through some dark and difficult times and they will never know just how grateful I am for this fact. My best friends are the people with which I worship. I have dined in their homes, presided at their weddings, baptized them, counseled them in trouble and rejoiced with them in celebration. We have learned a lot together: much from Scripture and much from trial and error. I have always done my best at that particular moment to met the needs of my fellow Christians and I feel that they have always wanted to be the best that they could be.
I love these people and I know they love me.
As a body and as individuals, we realize we are not perfect and we have a long way to go.
This is going all the way back to before Wicked was the musical theatre phenomena is has become. This is a look at members of the original creative team and, of course, the original stars, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. You make recognize Idina from last week's RENT clip. Sound quality is not great, but it is a good behind-the-scenes glimpse of the start of something very good. Many theatre fans believe they have been changed for the better by having the experience that is Wicked.
"Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have."
Yesterday, I returned to my alma mater to visit friends and enjoy part of the annual Bible Lectureship that takes place there every February. I confess I had mixed emotions about returning to the scene of so many memories from several years ago. I enjoyed my time at Freed-Hardeman University greatly, but I am never able to visit without feeling a sense of sadness as well. I miss the friendships that were formed there in the noisy halls of dormitories and in the quiet moments of campus devotionals. I miss the good times I had with social club intramural sports and in long nights in the Honors Room. I miss my favorite professors and my daily conversations with the facilities staff. Mostly, I miss so many sensations that cannot be adequately described in words: the warmth of the sunshine on the cobblestones of the Commons on the first day of spring, the smell of bonfire smoke in late October, the electricity of a first kiss stolen under the bell tower.
There are many things, of course, that I do not miss. I do not miss cramming all night for exams. I do not miss surprise memory verse quizzes. I do not miss forgetting the combination to my campus mailbox. I do not miss 3 AM fire alarms. I do not miss the dining hall's food, but I do miss the company kept around those tables. I do not miss breaking someone's heart to only later have someone else break mine.
The secret to enjoying life is to savor the season, to cherish the moment. Are there things I regret from those years? Certainly. Are there things I would do differently if given another chance? Absolutely. Yet every bad decision and every wrong turn has led me to precisely where I am today. If I had not gone to FHU, I would have never met some of my dearest friends. I would not have met the great loves of my life. I would not have received the training that allowed me to find and maintain the ministry I have long enjoyed. Most importantly, had I not attended FHU, I would not have found myself. The joys and the challenges that my four years afforded me formed a great part of who I am today. The lessons that I learned, both in class, in conversation and from trial and error, have brought me to where I am in this moment.
Many people are critical of this institution while many others give it high praise. I only know that it is a part of me. In many positive ways and in some negatives ones, it has influenced every aspect of my life. Guided by that influence, I pray to find peace with the past, joy in the present and hope in the future. I pray the same for you.
Remember that you control a great deal of what happens to you this week. Also know that, even in the things you cannot control, you control completely your reactions to those things which happen to you.
Go forward into this week with confidence knowing that, regardless of what happens, no one can steal your joy and contentment unless you allow him/her to do so. Temper your week with prayer and prepare your mind with spiritual thinking, and nothing negative can take power over you.