Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Reflections

I just finished watching the Inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama. And I must say that I am so proud to be an American. Consider the peaceful transfer of power, sadly unique in our world. During the Inauguration I was fascinated by something that is insignificant in one sense, and monumental in the other: the fact that precisely at noon, the White House website transitioned to President Barack Obama. There for the entire world to “surf” was a statement about America – though our political persuasions may differ, we battle with ideas, not bullets. We take each other to task using nouns and verbs, not violence. And when the people have voiced their preference for a leader, the will of the people is respected by those currently leading.

I am also proud of America in that today’s events solidify the fact that we have come a long way. On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. In only the 12th election following that speech, America elected her first African-American President. Indeed, President Obama referenced how far we [as a nation] have traveled. In his Inaugural Address he observed the amazing reality that in the same nation where “less than sixty years ago [his father] might not have been served at a local restaurant [he] can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”

For me personally, I can’t help but think of the many stories of racial hatred and abuse that have significantly shaped my own passion for the underprivileged and for those who are so often ignored by our larger society. For me, the stories of Vernon Johns, Ralph Abernathy, Medger Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Rosa Parks; the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Shwerner; the killing of Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing have etched in me a desire for equality and a passion for justice that crosses racial and ethnic lines.

Join me in praying today for God to give our President wisdom, compassion, and the courage necessary to lead a nation as diverse and as powerful as ours. And join me in realizing that God has blessed America in so many ways.

May God Bless America and President Barack Obama.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rest and Respect

On January 4 we began a new series on the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately I have not posted anything on the first two messages. The third message dealt with the command (s) to Remember the Sabbath Day and to Honor Parents.

Remembering the Sabbath Day is about Rest and Refocus. We need physical rest from the demands of the week. We also need time to Reflect and Refocus our lives. We need to spend a part of the Sabbath asking "Did I honor God this week?" "Am I in God's will?" "Is this what God wants from me?" and the like. We need to be relentless in pursuing and evaluating what God wants from us more than simply taking in a nice church service. This kind of Reflection is modeled by God on the Sabbath, as it is here that God surveys his creative work on the Seventh day.

A couple of other observations about the Sabbath command. This is a critical passage to argue for young earth creation. In this text we hear that God created in six days and rested on the seventh. There was not an Israelite standing at the foot of the mountain that would have thought that God had created in millions or billions of years. Rather, the most literal, natural sense of this text is a 7 day week. If you engage in a debate about the age of the earth, Ex 20 is a great resource!

Most importantly, the Sabbath points us to a REST from our efforts to try to please God through our own works. Heb 4 :8-11 points us to this reality as we are encouraged to enter the Sabbath rest of God.

The second command we looked at was that of Honoring Parents. Here I argued that we honor our parents differently depending on the stage of life we are in. For young children it is about obedience. As children grow it is about learning to manage increasing responsibility and consequences. And, for adults it is about love, forgiveness, value, and appreciation.

If you'd like to interact, let me suggest a couple questions:
1. What is most difficult for you about maintaining a regular Sabbath?
2. What is the biggest challenge you face as a parent?
3. What is the biggest challenge you face as a son/daughter?