Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, March 31, 2005

My picks: Carolina over Michigan State Illinois over Louisville Carolina over Illinois - - - - Tuesday was Randy Harris's day to teach in our class. Supposed to be on Ephesians. Right before we walked into the classroom I suggested he hold off on Ephesians until Thursday (today) and instead engage the students in a discussion about Terry Schiavo, encouraging them to learn to think Christianly about our interaction with the broader culture and to learn to talk with one another about issues where they strongly disagree without getting ugly. It was great. I'm so encouraged that these 80 freshmen Bible majors were able to do just that. For some reason the generation or two above them often haven't modeled that very well. We've demonized opponents, often assuming the worst about them and their motives. Wouldn't it be a tremendous step forward if we could learn to talk without having to agree? I'm not saying we should adopt a "whatever" philosophy where we no longer hold to convictions. But can't we recognize the humanity of others? Can't we assume better motives (unless they've proved us otherwise)? Can't we go toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose without being eye-for-eye and tooth-for-tooth?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Anyone upset about yesterday's post? As if you didn't waste enough time already checking out other blogs! :) If you tried to post a link, but ran into the blogger afternoon traffic jam, try today -- either on yesterday's comments or today's. Thanks so much. After "Stream in the Desert" this weekend, I'd like to pop by and visit some of the sites. Want one more blog to check out? Jon Westin Bennett, one of Chris's buddies who was in the wreck (and one of Los Tres Amigos who were in ICU together at Cook's), has spent most of the last couple months back in the hospital. They just can't get the infection in one of his legs to go away. This is one amazing kid, and he's started a blog -- written from his room in the hospital -- to catch people up and to let them know what to pray for. Think about this: a sixth grader writing on his laptop from a children's hospital to encourage others and to ask for prayer. www.wesbennett.blogspot.com. The last time I spoke at "Stream in the Desert" was in 2000. It was vintage Ken Young. Way too many people were coming to get into Golf Course Road's building and the Midland College arena wasn't available. So he checked into renting an abandoned Builder's Square facility. Of course, he was told there was no way. But Ken just couldn't believe that was the FINAL answer. Well, the next thing we knew, it was available, and the "Stream" folks turned it into a desert sanctuary. About 5800 attended that years, crammed into that former shopping center. The last couple years there haven't been quite as many people (2800 last year, I think I heard), but that's still pretty amazing. Thousands of people heading to Midland for a spiritual retreat. I'm looking forward to it. I need a really productive couple days to finish getting ready.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

There are so many people who visit here regularly who have your own blogs. Several of them I've checked out before. But I know you sometimes feel embarrassed to post your site. So today, here's my invitation: please sign in at the comments and leave us the link to your blog. Even if you've left it before. And keep writing, friends!

Monday, March 28, 2005

I didn't really go out on a limb with my pick this year. I have the Tar Heels. But at least I'm in the final four. It goes back to my first preaching ministry in Wilmington, NC. The state is hoops crazy. But when you have UNC, NC State, Duke, and Wake Forest (all of whom got in the 64 this year . . . along with UNC-Charlotte), there is good reason to be unreasonable about college basketball. Plus, there was that time we met Michael Jordan in the parking lot of the mall in Wilmington . . . . When was the last time there were so many incredible games in the quarterfinals? I had nothing at stake in the Michigan State/Kentucky game -- not particularly liking either of them (probably knowing they'd be playing UNC), but that was a great game. Had a good, exhausting time at the Tulsa Workshop this weekend. The nice thing about the Friday night keynote is that you could bomb and people would think it was a great night. They've already been worked into a frenzy by Keith Lancaster and Jerome Williams! Met lots of people from this blog community there. So glad you came up to visit. Back to Megan's grave yesterday morning. Our 11th Easter to be there, but only the second time with snow on the ground. This year we were joined by the Bourland family and afterward went to Brody's grave. I hurt for them as I think of the long journey of grief ahead. But they are amazing people with a strong extended family. Later today, time to start cranking up for "Stream in the Desert."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Is this a blog no-no? (And if so, who writes the rules?) This is an entry I wrote September 7. As I've been reading Ecclesiastes, I've returned to those thoughts from six months ago. Years ago when I was speaking at Northeastern Christian Junior College, Tony Campolo was also on campus to address a luncheon crowd on the topic: "A Sociologist Looks at Churches of Christ." Among the profound things he said was, "YOU GUYS ARE THE RELIGIOUS EQUIVALENT OF THE FLAT EARTH SOCIETY." (You have to put Tony's words in bold and caps.) He wasn't mad at us. In fact, there is a lot about the restoration heritage that really resonated with him. But he couldn't believe the naivity it took to talk about "the church" and "the Lord's church" as code phrases for the denomination known as Churches of Christ. It does take a pretty good dose of blindness and/or pride to make that kind of assumption. We are surrounded by Christ-seeking people. But there are other ways in which people can be part of the spiritual flat earth society. Some have lost a sense of wonder and mystery as they plow through life getting tasks done. They don't have time or the inclination to stop in amazement at the bursts of joy and hope around them. With busy lives and with low-level exhaustion, it's easy to miss out on the wonders of grace leaking in from all sides: from spouses, from children, from friends, from prayers, from movies, from books, from W TX sunsets. Try this for an experiment. The next time you go to church, open your eyes to everything and everyone God puts in your path. For once ignore the expected; forget your routine. Pray as you walk in for everyone you see. Shake the hands of people you would normally walk right past because you don't know them. Pretend you've been appointed DEACON(ESS) IN CHARGE OF GREETING. Instead of looking through the worship schedule to see whether you'll like it or not, imagine every possible source of amazement and wonder. Jump into the songs with everything you have. Look at the people around you. (Some did that at Highland this past year and saw a fortysomething woman who was losing a battle with cancer but who was so full of life and love that she drew them into the upside down world of the kingdom.) Absorb every icon, every picture, every facial expression. Be amazed at the body of Christ and the blood of Christ that is shared with you in communion. Imagine brothers and sisters in Christ who are sitting in huts or gathering under trees or huddled in rented public buildings from around the world. This is the art of spiritual imagination. It is apocalyptic. It sees the hope amid the suffering, the joy amid the routine, the love amid the bitterness, and the shalom amid the wars.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Here, for Holy Week, is Highland's Foundations of Faith statement: We believe in one all-powerful God of love, who made the world good and made humankind in His image, to enjoy fellowship with Him and with one another, and to care for His creation as imitators of Him. He deserves all our worship and praise. But we sin against God; disbelieving Him, disobeying Him, hiding from Him, we strive to become our own gods; ruining our relationships with Him, with our neighbors, and with nature, we are lost in death and deserve God’s condemnation. Yet in His justice and mercy God has acted to redeem His creation, choosing a covenant people to bless all peoples of the earth. In His grace and faithfulness, God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant. We believe in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, fully human, fully God, the Word through whom all things were made. Jesus came to the earth to teach the Truth and to proclaim the reign of God, preaching good news to the poor, release to the captives, healing for the sick, and forgiveness of sins. He called all people to repent and believe the Gospel, the Good News that salvation is found in Him alone. He was crucified for us, and on the third day God raised Him from the dead, defeating the powers of evil and death and securing for humankind forgiveness of sins by grace alone through faith alone in Him alone. He instructed us to observe the Lord’s Supper in His memory so that by participating in His body and blood we regularly commune with Him and with one another. He ascended to the Father, where He is now our priest and advocate in whose name we pray. He is Head of the Church under which our congregation governs itself. He will return to judge the living and the dead and to deliver us from death to life eternal with God in heaven. He invited us to join Him as his obedient disciples in the work of His ministry, the proclamation of the Gospel, and the forming of disciples. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the gift of God promised through Christ for His children and for the Church. The Spirit convicts the world of sin, and is the pledge of our adoption as God’s children. The Spirit intercedes for us in prayer; and claims us in the waters of baptism, in which believers are immersed for the forgiveness of sins to be united with Christ in His Body. The Spirit of holiness and freedom liberates us from sin, and claims us as servants of purity, conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ in our attitudes and conduct. The Spirit binds us together with believers of all times and places in the one Body of Christ, the Church; and calls and empowers men and women for various ministries for building up the Body and carrying out Jesus’ ministry in the world. The Spirit inspired the prophets and apostles to speak God’s Word, guiding the preservation, study, and proclamation of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, the unique revelation of God under which we stand, our authoritative guide for faith and life. To God be the glory in the Church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Here's a great piece on the sad story of Terri Schiavo by Rubel Shelly, who's spent lots of time and research looking into Christian faith and medical ethics. (He has a longer version that I hope will soon be on the Wineskins website.) Death isn’t always The Enemy Terri Schiavo suffered massive brain damage 15 years ago when, at the age of 26, her heart stopped beating. That event left her brain deprived of oxygen for an extended period. Since 1990, she has been in what medical literature calls a "persistent vegetative state" (PVS). She is no longer in contact – either by intellect or by will – with the world around her. As with most people in their twenties, Mrs. Schiavo had not documented her wishes as to whether she wanted to be kept alive under such an unlikely set of circumstances. Her husband, Michael, says she communicated her wishes to him more than once. But her parents refuse to accept his account. Seven years and 19 judges into their bitter family wrangling, the judicial system said it is acceptable to discontinue life support and to remove a feeding tube that has been keeping Mrs. Schiavo’s body functioning. But the Florida legislature substituted its judgment for the process that has been playing out, and now the U.S. Congress has acted in similar fashion. Ironically, a coalition of conservative religio-political groups has pushed for this intervention – after howling for years about the dangers inherent when lawmakers take it on themselves to intervene on organ donation, abortion rights, or what constitutes appropriate medical treatment for a terminally ill child. Not only physicians but the rest of us are smart enough to know the difference between protecting, enhancing, and empowering a human life with reasonable hope of recovery and merely prolonging the process of dying. Skill and technology that do the former are admirable and ethical; the same skill and technology used for the latter are unnecessary and ill-advised. Maybe a key issue here is our common insensitivity which fails to see that what is best possible treatment for a person lacking higher brain function is not always the most treatment possible. The idea that an emotional observer’s faint hope of another’s recovery can trump peer-reviewed medical judgment under extensive court scrutiny over years is simply irresponsible. Death is sometimes an ally instead of an enemy. Perhaps death itself needs to be reconsidered by all of us. It is not an absolute evil. It is sometimes an instrumental good for those without reasonable hope of recovery. Sometimes the real evil lies in forcing someone to endure existence that is no longer really life. Regardless of your take on this controversial case, your most responsible personal reaction to it is to document your own wishes about end-of-life decisions and then to share it with those closest to you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

There's a time to relax and a time to cram. (Been in Eccl. 3 too much this past week.) And it's a time to cram. I speak three times this weekend at Tulsa: 2:00 and 7:00 on Friday and 10:00 on Saturday. I was assigned all three topics. The most unusual one is "College Students Are People Too." What's that mean? Got any helpful hints? Should I assume I'm talking to college students or those who minister to college students? I'm just now putting the "final touches" on that message. (Translation: I'm thinking about it for the first time today.) Next weekend (April 1-3) is "Stream in the Desert." This year we're using my theme from the Gospel of John, "More Than Thunder." > Almost a year ago I told Ken I'd like him to write a song with that theme, and I just heard it for the first time. Very nice. (Of course, I think anything Cole sings is great!) I would appreciate your prayers as I prepare for these events.

Monday, March 21, 2005

From Eugene Peterson: The term "Soul" works like a magnet, pulling all the pieces of our lives into a unity, a totality. The human person is a vast totality; "soul" names it as such. . . . When we say "soul" we are calling attention to the God-origins, God-intentions, God-operations that make us what we are. It is the most personal and most comprehensive term for who we are--man, woman, and child. But in our current culture, "soul" has given way to "self" as the term of choice to designate who and what we are. Self is the soul minus God. Self is what is left of soul with all the transcendence and intimacy squeezed out, the self with little or no reference to God (transcendence) or others (intimacy). "Self" is a threadbare word, a scarecrow word. "Soul" is a word reverberating with relationships: God-relationships, human-relationships, earth-relationships. "Self" in both common speech and scientific discourse is mostly an isolating term: the individual. "Soul" gets beneath the fragmentary surface appearances and experiences and affirms an at-homeness, an affinity with whoever and whatever is at hand. When "soul" and "self" are turned into adjectives in colloquial speech, the contrast becomes even clearer: "soulish" gives a sense of something inherent and relational, entering the depths, plumbing the underlying sources of motive and meaning, as in soul food, soul music, the soulful eyes of a spaniel, and, negatively, "that poor lost soul"; "selfish," on the other hand, refers to the self-absorbed, uncaring, and unrelational--a life that is all surface and image. (from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday. It is hard to preach as I look out at my son in a wheelchair. I shudder with thanksgiving as I think of what might have been (and as I continue to think of Bret and Jennifer Bourland); but it's still hard to see. Today as all the children bring their palm branches down to the front, I'll be reminded again that there is one who was and is the victorious King -- not a king like they or we might have thought. But a King, nevertheless. As out-of-control as life seems, it isn't. Not completely. There is One who is moving everything inexorably to a grand conclusion.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Two stories of leadership from the best eldership I can imagine. The first story was several years ago. Highland was looking at the possibility of moving to a new facility. One wealthy member, who reportedly had decided we should move out of this neighborhood, offered to pay a substantial part of the building project if we moved. But the elders decided that we are right where God wants us to be (yes, right in the middle of an area that is NOT growing, where there are no new restaurants, where businesses aren't dying to move in, where office space isn't at a premium). They knew that numerical growth would be easier in another, newer part of town. But they also knew that the church isn't primarily about numerical growth (as experienced by most churches in America, where "growth" means moving to a new part of town, having the hottest worship, or offering the most services). Eventually that wealthy member left. The second story is from 10 years ago. A few months after Megan died, I asked people on a Wednesday night to listen to a song from Wayne Watson called "Home Free" that had ministered to us during the early stages of our grief. I was speaking on God's healing, and I love the line "at the ultimate healing we will be home free." A couple days later all the elders got a note that I hadn't seen or been told about. A VERY powerful member of our church (and a very good person) wrote them and insisted that I be fired. The implication was that he and his wife would leave if that didn't happen. The elders met, prayed, and assured me that they were fully behind me. And again, eventually, this wonderful couple left. These were people this church loved -- and still loves. (In a place like Abilene you have to understand that there is constant flow from congregation-to-congregation. If you held grudges against people who left, over a period of time you'd be mad at most people in town.) I tell these stories not because I'm mad at these people. I'm not. But here's the point: sometimes leadership means having to let people leave. It doesn't mean you're calloused; it doesn't mean you don't listen; it doesn't mean you run over people and their feelings. But on the other hand, isn't it time to quit letting disgruntled, uncomfortable people chart the course? Aren't there times when you have to receive criticism, try to negotiate the conflict, love, pray -- and even then let someone go? Even when it's painful? Even when it shows up on the weekly contribution? Even when people question your motives?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Last night, exactly two months after the wreck, when our small group of families--the children and their families who survived the accident--got together, we were all excited to hear good news from Cook's Hospital about Jon Weston. We are obsessed in prayer with his recovery. Later we gathered around to watch a recording of Brody Bourland's funeral. People were right: the Highland auditorium (which seats 1800) was packed, with people spilling over into the atrium. I was so thankful for the healing, truthful words that Jim Hinkle (one of Highland's youth ministers) and Rob Cunningham (one of our elders) spoke. It was such a helpless feeling to be unable to attend the funeral, but we were still in ICU at Cook's at the time. Here's what Diane and I know: this grief doesn't end after a couple months . . . or after a couple years. It stays with you, changing as the years roll by. But how do you ever really get past the loss of a child (or someone else dear to you)? This isn't unhealthy; it's the nature of loss. And it's a traveling companion that makes you look forward to heaven. Today, I share with you part of St. Patrick's "Breastplate Prayer": Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The long sermon I preached in January on the ministry of women is now available online at this site. This is part of the Wineskins website that you have access to without a subscription. This is probably important only to me, but the CD can also be ordered at this site, and none of the money will go to me. Any money made will support the Wineskins ministry.

Wise words from Henri Nouwen: When suddenly you seem to lose all you thought you had gained, do not despair. Your healing is not a straight line. You must expect setbacks and regressions. Don't say to yourself, "All is lost. I have to start all over again." This is not true. What you have gained, you have gained." Sometimes little things build up and make you lose ground for a moment. Fatigue, a seemingly cold remark, someone's inability to hear you, someone's innocent forgetfulness, which feels like rejection -- when all these come together, they can make you feel as if you are right back where you started. But try to think about it instead as being pulled off the road for a while. When you return to the road, you return to the place where you left it, not to where you started. It is important not to dwell on the small moments when you feel pulled away from your progress. Try to return home, to the solid place within you, immediately. Otherwise, these moments start connecting with similar moments, and together they become powerful enough to pull you far away from the road. Try to remain alert to seemingly innocuous distractions. It is easier to return to the road when you are on the shoulder than when you are pulled all the way into a nearby swamp. In everything, keep trusting that God is with you, that God has given you companions on the journey. Keep returning to the road to freedom.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Chris's 8-week spring break ends today! Back to Lincoln Middle School in his wheelchair. One thing he really liked about home-schooling was that he could sleep in as late as he wanted, have breakfast when he prefers (around 10:00 . . . which is just 35 minutes before he has lunch at middle school), and then get busy on homework assignments. He was fortunate to have a wonderful teacher (Diane, who took off that time from teaching second grade). Here's a new blog you might want to check out. John Willis, an incredible Old Testament scholar and one of the best elders you'd ever meet in your life, has for years been e-mailing out a daily devotional. Starting yesterday he's putting the devotional on this site.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

We've been gone a couple days. Our "spring break" was a return visit to Cook's. It was wonderful having a couple days to be with Jon Weston and his parents. That stupid infection will not leave the poor kid alone. Please join us in praying that it will go away quickly. Yesterday morning I thought we were just dropping by JW's room quickly to say good-bye. But he was having a really good day and there was a Monopoly game waiting for another player. Chris's eyes lit up. Needless to say, we didn't get back to Abilene very early. My least favorite sign I saw on the trip: "VOTE THE BIBLE." Ah yes, such a comforting world. But behind is such naivity about scripture, about interpretation, and politics, and about our culture. It assumes, after all, a Christian society and a Christian worldview. My favorite sign was on the marquee at Pappadeux: "MAHI-MAHI: SO GOOD THEY NAMED IT TWICE." I'm a seafood fanatic, so there are a lot of things I'd be willing to name twice. I could eat fresh seafood every evening for the rest of my life. Raw oysters, grouper, crab, mahi-mahi, amberjack, seafood gumbo, red snapper, scallops, flounder, etc. And shrimp? Bubba was right ("Forest Gump"). You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it. . . . shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. And as Bubba would say, that's about it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It's past my bedtime. Well past. But sleep won't come easily tonight. I finally got to see "Hotel Rwanda" with Mark, Paul, Jack, and Bill. It's not the kind of movie you walk away from and forget. This genocide is recent history. It happened while we lived in Abilene. Nearly a million people were hacked to death in Rwanda while the world turned its eyes the other way. (As one journalist explained in the movie, people will see it on t.v., they'll be upset, and then they'll go on with their meals.) Remember how so many churches rented out theaters to watch "The Passion of the Christ?" I wish we had done this with "Hotel." And instead of encouraging people to read the latest tripe on the Christian distributors' best-seller list, we ought to beg people to read Philip Gourevitch's We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. Genocide is still happening in Africa--in Darfar (Sudan) and in the Congo. AIDS has ravaged whole populations of parents. Malaria and other diseases continue to take their toll. And starvation is a real possibility for nearly half the population of the continent. So tonight is a night for prayer and for wondering what this means for my life.

Another age perspective. When Diane and I moved to Searcy for me to become the preaching minister at the College Church, our oldest parent was 48. My current age. Little did I know at the time just how young they really were! One interesting thing about working/ministering in a university environment is that you are the only one aging. The students remain 18-22ish year after year.

Monday, March 07, 2005

We're meeting this morning in Nashville to begin planning for the next Zoe conferences. Then Brandon will get busy selecting songs and putting together the next CD. So many of our the songs we're singing in Churches of Christ right now come from the arrangements on those Zoe CDs. So . . . want to make a few suggestions to Brandon? (He'll kill me. But, hey, I'm not making any promises.) What are some songs you wish could work their way into our worship assemblies? Now . . . a complaint. Why aren't there more songs being written today about mission, discipleship, and justice? Faith, as our brother James said, is worthless if it isn't an acting faith. Some people have thought James was heretical here; I think he was just writing about faith as he'd learned it from Jesus. (Try reading the Sermon on the Mount again.) I'm tired of "Shine, Jesus, Shine." But at times it seems like there aren't many other options when you're wanting to sing about the call to follow the Way of Jesus -- a way of justice, evangelism, and mercy. What songs are leading us to our identity as people who participate in the breaking in of the kingdom of God? Any songwriters out there? Or any songwriting wannabees out there? Get with it! I love all the "praise songs" that have been written. They were certainly needed -- especially for those of us who grew up on a steady diet of "To Canaan's Land" songs. But it's almost as if we've now equated "praise" and "worship." There are so many other voices of worship besides praise: thanksgiving, lament, and confession come to mind. Where are the new songs that lead us to the mystery of God like "Be Still My Soul" and "God Moves in a Mysterious Way"? But mostly, we need more songs that speak of our new identity as the people of God --blessed by God to be a blessing to the world.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Thoughtful words about prayer from Ed Fudge: A gracEmail subscriber writes: "Recently my dad died at age 62. A month later, my best friend died at age 37, leaving a widow and a three-year-old daughter. Many Christians in many places were praying for both men to survive and to be healed. It seems like God has an appointed day for our deaths. If so, what good does it do to pray?" * * * The question you raise is one of the oldest in recorded human history and also one of the most inexplicable. In a world where evil exists (and death is the ultimate earthly evil because it is both total and final so far as our present bodily existence is concerned), thoughtful people always ask "Why?" For people of faith, the moral question is more serious: "If God is both powerful and good, why does he allow evil?" Your religious questions then follow concerning prayer: "If God answers prayer, why is my prayer unanswered? If my prayer goes unanswered, why bother to pray?" The biblical book of Job (the narrative of which probably fits chronologically somewhere among the Genesis stories) wrestles with these questions but does not provide any clear answers. Job is a godly man who prays every day for his children. Yet God specifically allows the Adversary to destroy Job's children, his personal property and his physical and emotional health. Job's theological friends insist that the solution is simple: God is just, Job has sinned and he is getting what he deserves. Job, who knows that he is pious if not perfect, defends his own innocence before his friends and before God himself and demands an explanation from God. Eventually God responds to Job with an "Enough already!" and silences the devout questioner with a volley of divine questions that say in effect: "I am God and you are not!" Through it all Job hopes in God, asserting a personal faith that God will vindicate him even beyond death, which will never have the final word. This expression of faith brings the larger story full circle and proves the Adversary wrong who, in the prologue to the book, had alleged that Job would renounce all faith in God under the circumstances which then followed. Although the book of Job does not answer the questions that trouble us now, it provides a larger perspective in which we can trust God despite the present darkness. The story of Jesus provides even more context for faith under fire. After publicly proclaiming Jesus to be his "beloved Son," God proceeds to permit Jesus to suffer and die in horrible pain, apparent abandonment and public disgrace. Before the weekend is over, however, God changes forever the way his people view death itself by bringing Jesus back to life in a glorified body belonging to a new and eternal dimension. The faithful Father has vindicated his faithful Son and, by so doing, has demonstrated himself worthy of unwavering trust as the all-powerful and all-loving master over time and eternity. Why pray? Because God invites us to do so and, in ways and for reasons we cannot now comprehend, our prayers sometimes make a difference in what would otherwise happen. Like Job, we trust God in the dark. Because of Jesus, however, a blinding shaft of light has pierced through the darkness, illuminating a path of faith that finally leads to the visible presence of God. ____________________ © 2005 by Edward Fudge. Unlimited permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice. For encouragement and spiritual food any time, visit our multimedia website at http://www.edwardfudge.com/ .

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The drizzle and rain outside match our spirits inside today. This is the day we were supposed to travel to Washington, D.C. with our covenant group for a Spring Break mission trip (as part of Highland's 2005 "Into All the World" effort with about 500 members targeting various areas around the world). But because of Chris's injuries we couldn't make the trip. Our prayers are with the others who went, though. They'll be at the Fairfax Church of Christ tomorrow morning and the Springfield Church of Christ tomorrow evening, then participating in an inner city ministry the following days.

Friday, March 04, 2005

A simple meal. I've really missed the Oasis meal (Wednesday evenings at Highland) since the wreck. It's a wonderful time for seeing beloved Highland people. But even more, it's becoming a place where strangers are welcomed and the hungry are fed. Recently I met a young man who came to Oasis because he was homeless and hungry. There he met people who loved him, taught him, baptized him, and helped him find his first job. Last week there was no Oasis meal because of ACU lectureship. The families of the children who survived the wreck have been meeting weekly on Wednesday nights, and that night we met at the building for a meal. A couple women were there who'd come to eat. They live in our neighborhood and had been invited to come. They were hungry. I watched a couple women from our group get them food, love on them, and send them out with a hug, inviting them back for the next Oasis meal. ACU students are walking our neighborhood, bringing people from the "highways and byways" to the meal. While the meal is always good and nutritious, it isn't Outback or Olive Garden or Rosa's. But here's what it is: a foretaste of a heavenly banquet that we shall one day gather around.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

We've had some extra time at home recently because of Chris's recovery. At his request, we've been watching the Star Wars series in order. So far we've seen #1 ("The Phantom Menace"), #2 ("Attack of the Clones"), #4 (the first one from 1977 - "A New Hope"), and #5 ("The Empire Strikes Back"). Years ago I saw #4-6. And more recently we saw #1-2 when they came out. But I've never been much of a Star Wars aficionado . . . until now. I'm into it at the moment because my 6th grade son is into it! So today I continue with a few questions: You get to pick one warrior to go into battle with you. Do you pick Legolas or Aragorn . . . or Yoda? Does James Earl Jones have the best male speaking voice in the world? (Not counting Landon Saunders) Do the two new ones (#1-2) hold their own with the original trilogy (#4-6)? What's Saruman doing masquerading as Count Dooku? (Sorry, still prefer LOTR. Christopher Lee can't be Saruman AND Count Dooku!) Best "pet": R2D2, C3PO, or Wookie? Any real, true-blue, 10-on-a-scale-of-10 Star Wars fanatics out there? Wasn't it easier watching Luke and Leia kiss when you didn't know the rest of the story? How many Yoda sayings could you turn into a devotional talk? ("The dark side, hard to see it is.")

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A few questions this morning: Is the tv show "24" addictive? (I saw an episode for the first time last week and it seemed so.) Does e-mail save time? (I'm so far behind it's almost hopeless. Haven't recovered from the wreck yet.) Is Emmitt the greatest running back ever? (He did play behind an amazing line. Wouldn't he at least be the most consistent?) Am I a heretic because Ecclesiastes is one of my very favorite books of the Bible? Son #2 is 12. Wasn't son #1 just 12 a couple years ago? Then why's he away in medical school? (Sign I'm aging.) Best place in Texas to spend a couple days away? (Hill country? Big Bend? Metroplex? Austin? . . .) Hockey's on strike? Who knew? Was there really a better movie in 2004 than "The Incredibles"? Will the Princess Leia hairstyle ever return? You get to pick one warrior to go into battle with you. Do you pick Legolas or Aragorn? Why doesn't someone make a tiny beeper to help a person find the following things: wallet, glasses, wedding ring, and keys? I'm just wondering . . . .