One More Thing

Hi Five Oakers, The weekend is almost here and there are a few things I want to share with you.


The Weekend

This weekend's passage (1 Samuel 7) is for all of us who want to do something significant for God with our lives. 

David wants to do something significant for God. He wants to build a house for God. He even brings it up with his pastor who gives him an enthusiastic thumbs up. David has received his building permit and is ready to start.

Then God withdraws the building permit. Why? Some of you may know part of the answer, that David is a man of war. But that reason, although one of God's reasons (see 1 Chronicles 22:8 and 28:3), never comes up in this passage. The reasons God gives in 2 Samuel are all reasons with which we can identify.

This passage gives us so much to think about when we want to do something great for God and he says 'no' or 'not yet.' 


Frederica Mathewes-Green, David A. Croteau, Steve Stewart on "[3 Views on] Is It Robbing God to Tithe on Your After-Tax (Not Gross) Income?"

Over the years, our total giving (including alms) has ranged from 15 to 20 percent. We found, like others before us, that once we determined to make our tithe the first payment each month and this habit became routine, all other expenses fell into place.


Seth Godin on "In Search of a Metaphor"

An amateur memorizes. A professional looks for metaphors.

Leslie Leyland Fields on "How We Made Too Much of Gender: Reclaiming an identity more meaningful than manhood or womanhood"

I’m not attempting to usher us all back to the extremes—and bad fashion—of the unisex ‘70s. We need not pretend we are all alike, or that gender doesn’t matter, but gender has mattered far too much. A settled identity as a man or woman or homosexual or transwoman or genderqueer or any of the other LGBT designations will not answer our deepest human longings—to know and be known, to love and be loved by the one in whose image we’re made. Nor do all the delineations for gender provide a way forward for living in our shared humanness and createdness.

One More Thing

From last week's sermon, here is the quote from Eugene Peterson in Leap Over a Wall: Reflections of the Life of David (pp. 150-151):

Holy Scripture posts Uzzah as a danger sign for us: "Beware the God." It is especially important to have such a sign posted in places designated for religious worship and learning. We enter a church or school to learn of God, be trained in knowledge and obedience and prayer. And we do get what we came for -- truth that centres, words that command and comfort, rituals that stabilize, work that has purpose, a community of relationships, forgiveness that frees.

We find God. We change our ways. We repent and believe and follow. We rearrange our circumstances and reestablish our routines around what now gives meaning and hope. We take on responsibilities in the wonderful new world of worship and work. We advance in the ranks and, before we know it, we are telling others what to do and how to do it. All this is good and right. And, then, we cross a line -- we get bossy and cranky on behalf of God. We began by finding in God a way to live rightly and well and, then, along the way, we take over God's work for him and take charge of making sure others live rightly and well. We get the idea that we are important (self-important) because we are around the Important.

Religion is a breeding ground for this kind of thing. Not infrequently, these God-managing men and women work themselves into positions of leadership. Over the years, the basics with which they began -- the elements of reverence and awe, the spirit of love and faith -- erode and shrivel. Finally, there is nothing left. They are dead to God.

Uzzah is a warning. If we think and act like that, we will be dead men and women, sooner or later. Dead in our spirits. Dead to the aliveness of God. Jesus called such people "whitewashed tombs ... full of the bones of the dead" (Matthew 23:27).

Uzzah's death was not sudden; it was years in the making. His "dead works" accumulated within him like the bones of the dead, suffocating the spirit of praise and faith and worship.

One More Thing

Dear Five Oaks Family, The weekend's coming so there are a few things I want to share with you.


The Weekend

The friendship between Jonathan and David kept David strong in God during one of the darkest times in his life. Their commitment to each other and love for each others show us how spiritual friends strengthen each other in the Lord. That's the focus of this weekend's sermon in The David Story (1 Samuel).


Wesley Hill on "Why Can't Men Be Friends?: Men and women alike increasingly say they are lonely. It doesn't have to be this way"

As a single person, I acutely need intimacy and loyalty from my friends. I'm eager for them to say to me, "We love you because you're ours," without leaving an escape clause. Part of the reason I need that kind of friendship is because I don't think marriage is in my future. I'm gay, and also committed to the traditional Christian view that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. When I contemplate a lifetime of celibacy, I know I want committed friends who will walk beside me on the journey.

Mark Yarhouse on "Understanding the Transgender Phenomenon: The leading Christian scholar on gender dysphoria defines the terms—and gives the church a way forward"

A few years ago, my research team at the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity conducted the first study of its kind on transgender Christians. We collected information on 32 biological males who to varying degrees had transitioned to or presented as women. We asked many questions about issues they faced in their home, workplace, and church, such as, “What kind of support would you have liked from the church?” One person answered, “Someone to cry with me rather than just denounce me. Hey, it is scary to see God not rescue someone from cancer or schizophrenia or [gender dysphoria]...but learn to allow your compassion to overcome your fear and repulsion.”

One More Thing

Once again the Bryant's small group, together with several of their friends and family joined together to offer VBS at an apartment complex filled with Karen refugee children. Here's Kristen Brayant's email to me sharing her joy (and don't miss the pictures below):

We had another great Karen VBS. This year we had 127 kids attend, and 23 kids made first time decisions to accept Christ. That is something to celebrate! The highlight for me was when my daughter came over to me all excited that she helped 3 little kids accept Christ. What an amazing thing it is to see my own child stepping up and sharing the love of Christ with someone. That is what I really love about the Karen VBS, the opportunity to serve as a family.

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