Map

My good friend Brad Sullivan showed me the road to the preacher getaway to which I have made extensive reference recently in this space.  But I needed to leave the event early, so I drove home alone.  And I got lost.  As in, I didn’t know which road to get on, what direction to go, or even where to find a decent WiFi signal so my phone could educate me properly.

I needed a map. 

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Gather

When a bunch of preachers gather in a single area, they tend strongly to discuss the things of the Spirit.  Perhaps that is simply to “fit in.”  Perhaps it is to demonstrate our credibility in spiritual matters. Perhaps it is simply because it is what everyone else is doing.  In any case, we look more like preachers when preachers are the only ones in the room.

That can be a result of hypocrisy, and in some instances it probably is.  Maybe some are just going through the motions to blend in with people they admire.  Maybe that’s what I do.  But I like to believe, …

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Mega-Monstrosity

Full disclosure: I am the last person you should go to for reliable information on the lottery.  I deliberately avoid these stories — not because I want to limit my exposure to temptations of the flesh, but rather because I detest stupidity and because I wish to expect the best out of my fellow Americans.

That said, the figure $1.5 billion grabs the attention of even the most callous of ‘net-surfers.  So I poked around a bit. 

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Enslaved no longer

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.’ ” — John 8:34-36

 

Sinners do not properly understand the principle of being enslaved to sin. They know nothing other than slavery. They have found contentment and even joy in slavery. They have convinced themselves that sin is the inevitable and preferred state of mankind. By committing themselves to slavery, though, they are prohibiting themselves from living the life that they were, in the most literal of senses, born to live.

 

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Simplicity

Simplicity, as pointed out to me recently by Bro. Ed Bragwell, is the opposite of duplicity.  Yet again, Hal slaps himself in the face and wonders how something so obviously true and practical escaped his notice for 52 years.

“The simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” is addressed in 2 Corinthians 11:3. 

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Companions

I spent the better part of the week at what Taylor delights in calling “preacher camp” while she and Tracie were riding out the hurricane.  Yes, I feel a bit guilty about that.  What can I say?  They made me go, and they wouldn’t let me come home early.  They had Elvis movies to watch.

But I’m glad I went.  I met a few dozen preachers.  I sat at the feet of qualified and motivated instructors.  I grew as a preacher and a Christian.  Almost as importantly, I got ample fodder for articles such as this one.  Stay tuned.

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A proper cause for boasting

Like the rest of us, Paul had plenty of opportunities for boasting if he were inclined to seek them. He lists some of them in Philippians 3:5-6. Circumcised. Descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Devout follower of Jehovah God for his entire life. A spotless reputation for righteousness among all who knew him. Such things were, in fact, used by many Jewish Christians to distance themselves morally and spiritually from others, particularly Gentiles.

But Paul abandoned such things.

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The truth we know

Enough, already.

Enough judging a man in his 50s for an isolated incident, or even several of them, that may or may not have happened when he was a teenager.

Enough judging a woman for daring to have a smile on her face at some point in time when the most important thing in her life is her allegations of being assaulted.

Enough giving credence to everyone who supports our own preconceived values and principles.  Enough dismissing and/or excoriating everyone who opposes them.

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Are you suffering from MIsophonia? Call 1-800-GetOverIt

If you are driven to distraction by the noise people make when they are eating, chewing gum, or just plain breathing, you may have misophonia — which is an actual mental condition, according to the ever-reliable internet.

You also may be a human being.

The distinction between the two seems to be a capacity for toleration. 

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Unitaskers

Alton Brown, my favorite foodie, has a real attitude about what he calls “unitaskers” — that is, kitchen implements that serve only one function.  Strawberry slicers, rice cookers, countertop rotisseries, basically anything sold on late-night television — scrap them all.  The only unitasker you should have in your kitchen, he says, is a fire extinguisher.

It is the exception to the unitasker rule that I would like to address here. 

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Serve

Whenever I hear about a restaurant or other establishment that refuses to serve police officers, I always want to ask, “Do you expect them to serve you?”  After all, their service requires them to (at least potentially) put their very lives on the line for you.  The worst that can happen to you by serving them is getting a rotten tip.

It just seems reasonable.  When people put themselves out for you, you should be inclined to do the same for them. 

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Love Lifted Me!

Peter was an experienced fisherman. He had no doubt experienced many troubling waters in his life. But this particular storm was placed in context when he and the other disciples saw Jesus walking on the water. Peter had enough faith to recognize the Lord’s voice, and enough confidence to ask if he could walk out on the water to meet Him — and to do so when Jesus gave him permission. 

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Videos

OK, Hal has been watching videos on Facebook again.  Someone unplug his modem before he turns into one of those people who is always linking to clips of baby goats and puppies.  Anyway, this one was of a driver and would-be Sonic customer who seemed to have confused the concepts of drive-in and drive-thru.  

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Tantrums, getting your way, and Serena Williams

Serena Williams’ tantrum at the U.S. Open (that’s tennis, for sports fans only interested in a ball with points) was not her first by any means.  She has quite the track record, actually, of verbal abuse, court abuse, equipment abuse, and general abuse of principles of basic decency.

All of these incidents seem to have one thing in common: Serena was losing the match at the time of the incident.

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Back

Some of you are old enough to remember when a fried chicken dinner required not only a frying pan but also either kitchen shears or a big knife.  That’s right, back in our day chickens were purchased in grocery stores, not drive-thru windows.  And they looked pretty much like actual chickens, just without feathers, heads and feet.

When my mom served us fried chicken, she insisted on taking the back.  That’s a piece of chicken the Colonel doesn’t serve, of course.  But it’s there, right there with breasts, thighs and drumsticks.  I always thought she was “taking one for the team,” as mothers often do — leaving the choice pieces for the rest of us.  Now I’m starting to wonder if Mom was playing us.

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Imitation

One of my recent Bible acquisitions claims to have an “imitation leather” cover.  Well, I guess that’s right, as far as it goes.  It’s certainly not real leather.  But honestly, if I had not seen the words on the box, it never would have occurred to me that it might be leather.  It may as well have called itself imitation rubber, or imitation wool, or imitation cardboard.

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"Men, ... like trees walking"

Mark 8 includes an interesting postscript to the narrative of the feeding of the 4,000. Like Matthew, Mark follows the story immediately with the discussion among the disciples about not having any bread — ironic in the extreme, given the circumstances. After all, He had just provided an enormous amount of food with practically nothing to work with — for the second time!

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Piano

What does two hours of “worship piano” sound like?  I had to know.  After all, the all-knowing YouTube seems to have thought I would like it.

       And I did, I guess.  I love piano music.  Very relaxing, very melodic.  As good, at least, as the rain forest noises that accompany my typical Sunday afternoon nap.

I wouldn’t call it “worship,” though.  If you want to argue the piano player was “worshiping” during the performance, we can have that discussion another time.  But I certainly wasn’t worshiping.  I was listening.

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