Friday, January 17, 2014

DEVO: Jan 17 - Psalm 86:16

Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant.
Psalm 86:16

Have you ever prayed, “Give me strength”?

It’s a good prayer. An honest prayer. (And God loves honest prayers!)

But if I have time to think about it, I’m going to try and remember to be more specific! I’m going to try and echo the Psalmist’s request in Psalm 86. He doesn’t just say, “Give me strength,” he says “Give [me] YOUR strength.”

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who doesn’t want to be
the strongest Ed that he can be;
rather, a guy who wants
the strength of God!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

DEVO: Jan 16 - 1 John 2:2

Jesus Christ is
the atoning sacrifice for our sins,
and not for ours only but also
for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:2

Fancy word: Do you know what “atone” means? It means to make amends, to make reparations, to pay for a crime.

Jesus paid for our crime. He made reparations for our sins. He IS the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Wait. Let’s get personal. First, he died to save you. You. If you were the only person on earth who ever sinned, he would have died just for you.

John wants you to see that. But he also wants you to see the bigger picture. It’s about you … but it’s also a billion times bigger than you. He has a solution for every person who’ve ever lived and ever will live.

And once we understand the Gospel – personally – it’s our job to help others comprehend the gift to.

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who spells atone “AT ONE
– his action makes us at one with him

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DEVO: Jan 15 - Redistricting

At that time the servants of
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon
came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.
King Nebuchadnezzar … carried away … to Babylon
all Jerusalem, all the officials, all the warriors,
ten thousand captives, all the artisans …
No one remained, except the poorest people.
2 Kings 24:10-15

Did you hear today’s big news in Union County? The schools are being redistricted. Hundreds of parents and children are sad. Many like their schools, their teachers, their friends. Some moved into their particular neighborhood to get their kids in a particular school. And now it’s changing.

Every change brings loss. And every loss brings grief. Therefore, there’s a lot of grief and loss and uncertainty and worry floating around our community. Let me try to make some sense of it.

When I was in elementary school, I was part “The Great Redistricting.” It was called “integration.: Basically, I was too young to know what was going on. But how my parents handled it had a major impact on my life.

First, my original “redistricting” had nothing to do with decisions of courts and school districts. My story starts with a move from Roanoke, Virginia, to Wilmington, North Carolina. The move was my “redistricting”! I moved school districts because we moved cities and states!

But it was bigger than that.

      1.  We moved from an educationally advanced school system, to one that was considerably lagging.
     2. More importantly, we moved from a segregated school district in Virginia to a desegregated school district in North Carolina – an infamously desegregated school district. The battle over desegregation in Wilmington made national headlines. Nine men and one woman – “The Wilmington Ten” – were convicted of arson and conspiracy. And that’s what we moved into.

My parents had a choice.
  •      They could keep us out of the public schools. (In Charlotte’s desegregation struggle, that’s how and why many of today’s “great” private schools in Charlotte started.)
  •      They could put us in the public schools and complain bitterly about the situation. (This is what many of my friend’s parents did. And looking back, these kids reflected their parent’s attitude. To many of my peers, at least in those early years, were angry, bitter, complaining, and even sometimes bigoted.)
  •      They could put us in the public schools and treat it as normal and good. (This was the path my parents chose. And as a little fifth-grader, I was oblivious to the gift my parents were giving me. By not making a big deal of the situation, they taught me a powerful, silent testimony – “People are people. Celebrate living side-by-side.”)

Union County redistricting is totally different than my experiences in the seventies. Looking back, we celebrate my 70s integration as a civil rights victory. Today in Weddington and Wesley Chapel, it’s hard to see any transcendent victory in redrawing school lines to ease crowding and save money on busing.

Nevertheless, that’s still a message that I’d like to pass on from my parents example … back in the day. Parents, when frustrations hit (whether be redistricting or whatever), don’t complain about it to your kids. They’ll reflect your attitude. And an attitude of complaining will transcend this issue. You might just teach your kids to complain about everything.

Now, if you’re concerned about an issue, here’s what you can do productively …
  •      You can have adult conversations with your kids about issues like this – especially as your kids get older.
  •      You can be very honest about your disappointments. And if you can manage to do that without adopting a spirit of complaint, you help step your kids step toward greater maturity.
  •      You can also model peaceful, honest political dialogue. You can let your kids watch you try and affect positive change in your community (without sinking to name-calling and divisiveness).  
  •      Finally, if and whenever things in your life don’t go your way, you can model through your actions what’s become known as the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

The verse at the beginning of today’s reflections concerns the moment when God’s people of Judah were “redistricted.” Nebuchadnezzer asked for no one’s approval. And Daniel was one of thousands who were redistricted to Babylon.

A better example than me and my parents in the 70s is Daniel’s approach to his Exile in Babylon.

He focused on God, and “God grant[ed him] the serenity to accept the things he could not change.” He was an unwilling slave, but he made the best of it.
“God [also] grant[ed him] the courage to change the things [he could].” He refused, for example, to accept a Babylonian diet – but he didn’t do it with bitterness or complaint. He was honest, conversational, winsome, and yet firm.
When it’s a matter of religious conviction (rather than personal preference – that’s the “wisdom to know the difference.”), we are called to accept the consequences of a righteous stand … even if that means we get thrown into a den of lions.

And when Daniel modeled this kind of principled, winsome character, God allowed him to shape the faith of a nation.

Your principled, winsome, (non-whining and non-complaining) stands might not change a nation, but they might change the destiny of your children.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who inherited his parents’
principled, winsome witness