Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On Windsuckin', Mountain Preachers

It's funny how people take to different styles of preaching. Some folks view the loud preachers as condemnatory and mean. Not my daughter Moriah.

Recently we enjoyed a vacation in Tennessee with my in-laws. On Sunday we visited a Baptist church in the area (Pigeon Forge). The preacher there was one of those (as I call them) "windsuckers." They scream every word and gasp for breath between every eight or so. Moriah (5 years) was astonished at that style of preaching, having never been subjected to it before.

Later she confided in me: "Daddy, that preacher sure loves God A LOT!"

"What makes you say that? "

"Because when he talks about Jesus, he does it really, really loud! That means he loves God a lot."

So, for all you windusckin', leather-lunged, barn-stormin' pulpiteers out there, you've got at least one person who appreciates your sermonizing style.

Monday, January 3, 2011

On Mundane Grace

The dishes that really delight our taste buds are often hiding a secret ingredient that gives that particular culinary delight the extra edge it needs to go from “good food” to “this is what I want to eat before I die.” Perhaps it’s a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg laced unsuspectingly into a casserole, or maybe it’s a dash of cayenne pepper or dill that sneaks up on our after-taste to hit it over the head with a flavor we didn’t expect.

Funny thing about secret ingredients is nobody realizes their presence until they’re missing, and when we become aware of their addition, their familiarity makes the dish all the more enjoyable.

As with secret ingredients, so also with God’s benevolent grace. God is good – to everyone. The just and the unjust, the righteous and the wicked - all are recipients of God’s daily dose of common grace. His mercies are new every morning as He serves His creation a fresh batch of blessings.

A clear, star-filled night sky, brisk winter air that smells of pine and smoke, a warm bed to tuck the little one into, the loyalty of a four-legged friend, or a stout cup of coffee that massages every taste bud in your mouth – all are everyday blessings flowing from the hand of a benevolent God.

Funny thing about God’s common grace is we are often oblivious to it until God withholds a few of the blessings we have taken for granted. But when we are aware of mundane grace, its familiarity makes the day all the more enjoyable.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On New Year's Resolutions, or, "Spit in the Dirt and Get Back in the Fight"

New Year's resolutions. Passé? Silly? Self-centered? Shallow? A futile excursion into self-reliant moralism? Maybe. They certainly have become everyone's favorite holiday punching bag. Rarely is a kind word said about them.

But I like New Year's. I like do-overs. I like second, third, and thirty-seventh chances. I like trying to be better than I was.

I look at a new year's beginning like the scene in the old westerns - the one where the good guy, embroiled in a cantina throw-down, gets a chair over the head and a boot in the rear that sends him somersaulting outside into the dirt. The pugnacious crowd peers mockingly over the swinging doors and laughs at him before they return nonchalantly to their saloonish distractions. What does our man in the white hat do? Quit? Run? Cry? No. He picks up his dislodged hat, dusts himself off, spits some blood in the dirt, sets his jaw with a wipe from his sleeve, and saunters back into the den of iniquity to give the bad guys what-for.

That's New Year's to me. 2010 cleaned my clock, just like 2009 and the rest of their gang. Time to dust myself off, spit blood in the dirt, and get back in the fight. That's my New Year's resolution every year: get back in the fight.

"Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be." - Jonathan Edwards