Monday, July 27, 2009
Matt Walker, Rick Jordan and Randy Davis graduated from GSB at this conference. It made Monday evening a very special time. We also had good reports through the week from Bob Barlow about the exciting things happening in China, as well as from Des Strydom about Africa, Johny Varghese about India and Tom Bruscha about our Forgotten Truths television program. From the preaching/teaching this week, I'd say the grace message is alive, well and moving forward!
We always have a large group of friends/relatives staying with us before and after the conference. It is a special treat to enjoy the "after conference" fun times--late night conversations, lots and lots of laughs, etc. Today we took a large group of teens (21 in all) to do downtown Chicago. They are making friends--grace friends--that will last a life time.
David, Stacy and their boys left this afternoon. Cynthia and I leave tomorrow to take our AZ grandkids home and then we'll all drive from Mesa to the conference in California in Rick and Linda's big van. I don't look forward to the long road trip, but more time with my grand kids always keeps things interesting.
At the moment Cynthia is doing some last minute office work. I did radio for the next two weeks yesterday afternoon (Des Strydom preached for us at Shorewood) and caught up on GSB paper work. Now we just have to pack so we can be at the airport at 8:00 in the morning.
Oh, yea. Cynthia still has to cut my hair, too. And, yes, she also cuts hair!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I started yesterday with a hospital visit and then moved on to my "honey-do" list. Most of the day I cleaned, repaired (installed a new sink and storage shelving in the garage!) and moved things out of the house. Cynthia is in her "Ms Clean" mode, so the dust is flying!
Our summer conference is always a special time. Largely the fruit of our efforts through Grace School of the Bible, it allows us to gather folks from across the country (but mainly the midwest--we have meetings in other regions throughout the year, too) who fit the KJB, mid-Acts, grace-life believer mode. I have always said that we are not all there is to the so-called grace movement, but we are!
Our fellowship and associations have been a very lively endeavor through the years. We haven't looked backward, or even side-ward at what others are doing/saying, but have focused on the future and applying Paul's message and ministry model to the world we live in and the world we are moving toward. The fruit speaks for itself.
We intend to put the messages live on the Internet--assuming the wireless service at the hotel cooperates. We'll also have DVD/CDs available. I'm working today on final preparations for the afternoon seminar on Welcome To Winter!
Monday, July 6, 2009
Several folks asked me to weigh in on Michael Jackson. Frankly, I’ve not been one of his greatest fans. Don’t get me wrong, no one could deny his unique talent. Michael Jackson will always be the undisputed king of pop. His later years were fraught with strangeness and not even the most ardent fan could deny his shortcomings.
It will be a while before the dust settles on Jackson’s passing, but for me he is a parable on the toxicity of fame. The trouble with fame is that it brings with it the imposition of worship. Like it or not, men are not made to receive worship; we are made to give it. The fact is there is a really good reason why only God should be worshipped and that is that He is the only one who is unaffected by it, one way or another.
As we've seen in the case of Michael Jackson, strange things happen in and to men when we worship at their feet, and even stranger things happen in and to them when we withdraw that worship. Michael, and all those who drink from the toxic-cup-of-fame, fall victim to the fact that men are made to worship, not be worshipped. When we don't worship God, it's not that we worship nothing, it's that we worship anything (Rom. 1:19-25).
Interestingly, Philippians 2:5-11 fits this point. Because God the Son personally chose to "humble Himself" in eternity (vs. 6), in incarnation (v. 7) and in death (v. 8), God the Fathers has “highly exalted Him” to the place of supreme worship before the whole of the universe. But this exaltation is not something “new,” rather it is simply the restoration of “the glory which [He] had with [the Father] before the world was” (John 17:5). In plainer words, Jesus Christ was not seeking personal enhancement but rather was fully dedicated to “esteem other better than [Himself]” (Phil.2:3). Thus worshipping Him has no toxic potential!
His Most Telling Admission
In a recent article in The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote the following words about Michael Jackson:
I will never forget what he said when we sat down to record 40 hours of conversations where he would finally reveal himself for a book I authored. He turned to me and said these haunting words: "I am going to say something I have never said before and this is the truth. I have no reason to lie to you and God knows I am telling the truth. I think all my success and fame, and I have wanted it, I have wanted it because I wanted to be loved. That's all. That's the real truth. I wanted people to love me, truly love me, because I never really felt loved. I said I know I have an ability. Maybe if I sharpened my craft, maybe people will love me more. I just wanted to be loved because I think it is very important to be loved and to tell people that you love them and to look in their eyes and say it."
The above quote from Michael Jackson may be the most important admission of his life. He was a man in a frantic search for love—but, sadly, “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the song goes. There are many others like him among those who are famous, those who are infamous and those who fit neither category.
What does that say to of us? It surely reminds us of the opportunity we have to love people with the authentic love of Jesus Christ.
There's a line in the sand with religion on one side and Jesus Christ on the other. I want to spend my life being on the right side of the line, don't you? Who knows what difference you will make in somebodies life if you do.
Like Michael, we often look for achievement to bring us love. When we don't get it from that, we look for comfort from substances (food and work), etc., etc. The truth is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only source that really satisfies.