Friday, October 31, 2008

Feast or Famine

After not blogging for quite a while, here go two in one day...of course, if you've read the previous one, you understand that I've placed myself under some pressure.

A few days ago, Angela sent me these challenging words from "Of the profit of Adversity" from Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ:

It is good that we sometimes have griefs and adversities, for they drive a man to behold himself and to see that he is here but as in exile, and to learn thereby that he ought not to put his trust in any worldly thing.

It also is good that we sometimes suffer contradiction, and that we be thought of by others as evil and wretched and sinful, though we do well and intend well; such things help us to humility, and mightily defend us from vainglory and pride. We take God better to be our judge and witness when we are outwardly despised in the world and the world does not judge well of us

Therefore, a man ought to establish himself so fully in God that, whatever adversity befall him, he will not need to seek any outward comfort. When a good man is troubled or tempted, or is disquieted by evil thoughts, then he understands and knows that God is most necessary to him, and that he may do nothing that is good without God. Then the good man sorrows and weeps and prays because of the miseries he rightly suffers. Then the wretchedness of this life burdens him, too, and he yearns to be dissolved from this body of death and to be with Christ, for he sees that there can be no full peace or perfect security here in this world.
Investing in people

Years ago Calvary had a radio program on a local station. It was a "call in" show where people could ask questions about the Bible...or almost anything. Usually two of our pastors would share the mic and when no one was calling, we would just "jabber" on .. . sometimes about the Bible, and sometimes just "jabber." I viewed it as a good investment of my time to reach people in a public space.

Most everyone in our church thought the broadcast was a great outreach, and hence, a great use of their pastors' time. I don't disagree, but in retrospect would have to acknowledge that a few hundred people were probably the actual audience on a good day. The total who could have tuned in for the 30 minutes (you listened at that time or it was gone forever) probably numbered in the thousands -- maybe 40 thousand at the very most if every person in the county had their radio tuned to that station at precisely that time.

Sometimes I hear people criticize pastors who blog as if it's a poor use of their time. That's interesting. I find blogs to be a wonderful source of spiritual instruction and thought-provoking insights--free if charge to anyone who cares to "click." Of course, the blogisphere has junk too, but then, so did the radio station.

It is estimated that at least 45 million people all over the world currently go to the internet to find spiritual instruction. That potential audience (and its global makeup) causes our old radio outreach to look rather puny at best -- 40 thousand to 45 million. Actually, that's the wrong comparison. The number of people who now have access to the internet is estimated at over a billion. The real comparison between the potential audience of our old radio broadcast and THIS BLOG is: 40,000 to 1,000,000,000+. And the neat thing is that a blog stays available without cost 24/7 virtually forever. Wow!

I wish I were more disciplined about blogging. Maybe I will be. There's no question that I should be. I'll try. Mean while, I'll keep reading blogs that help me a lot.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Saturday Gloria and I saw the new movie, FIREPROOF.

It's unfortunate that most "Christian" movies struggle to compete with the quality of Hollywood's productions, but I perceive that recent years include more awareness and effort in that direction. There's still a ways to go!

Strong pro and con arguments could be produced for how overt the message should be to be effective in this culture. I think we stand to learn from Jesus whose parables often left His audience hanging to supply their own meaning and application.

These concerns not-with-standing, we enjoyed this movie. It certainly includes some much needed messages about marriage and life even if they are sometimes a bit too obvious and preachy.

I appreciated the powerful reminders about what it takes for a marriage to thrive. I would recommend it highly with the above disclaimers. People whose marriage is at risk may especially be helped, though every husband and wife could benefit.

The gospel is very clearly presented. That's great for those who are ready to hear. A more subtle approach would likely gain a much larger hearing.