Being A Brother

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ImageMost people don’t understand my family dynamics. I don’t understand everyone’s family dynamics either. I have two families. My natural family that gave me birth, and my adopted family that adopted me as a young man. I have had two wonderful mothers, who both gave me their best. My natural father never knew how to be a father until shortly before his death. My adopted father was a very good dad, but never wanted me to look back. I was lucky, I had two families.

This past week my only natural brother (Claude Edward) was killed in a auto accident. He was fourteen years older than me. In some ways he was more like a father than a brother. He dropped out of school and went to work to help my mother make a living. He was someone that I could count on. His life wasn’t easy. He married a lady who made a rocky marriage their entire marriage until he finally divorced her. He later remarried and found some happiness.

While my brother was never the type to say “I love you,” I knew he did. After our mothers death and I was adopted, he kept tabs on me. He took pride in the fact that I was the first person in our family to graduate high school. He even drove one hundred miles to come to my college graduation. The year between high school and college he gave me a job at his construction company. I was not a very good builder, but I could carry lumber, get supplies, clean up after the crew and do other jobs. Even when it was difficult to keep employees, he kept me on board (when I should have been the first let go) to earn money for college. When I was given a newer car by someone, he bought my old car (my first car), not because he needed it, or could even use it, or even afford it, but just so I would have an extra money for college.

He never said it, but I always knew he took great pride in me. He always teased me about being a minister but I also saw the smile on his face when I received my doctorate. It was in his later years after he remarried that he returned to church. We were typical brothers. We argued, we disagreed, but we were family and we loved each other. I hurt for not just my loss, but Paula’s loss and his two girls and his grandchildren.

My brother taught me how to be a man. He taught me how even when your own personal life can be in the pits, you can still make a difference in the lives of others. He taught me that there is a satisfaction in doing something for someone else. That is the type of brother I want to be.

 

Christian Flexibility and Understanding

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Hillside Christian Church more than most congregations has had good success with “blended services.” More and more churches are offering both a traditional service and a contemporary service on Sundays. Our hope is to one day be able to develop a contemporary service that addresses that spiritual need.

Contemporary worship appeals to younger people and traditional appeals to the more mature crowd. The millennium generation (20ish) like worship that is fast moving, filled with technology, drums and guitars, all senses being utilized and very informal. They do not like robes, hymns, quiet times, or the organ.

The unique challenge is blending the two styles so that everyone is happy, satisfied and receives something. The reality is that we need each other in the life of the church. We can’t do without the younger generation and we can’t do without the older generation – we are dependent upon each other. Maybe that is why God created us to be Church.

The Apostle Paul has a message for this very issue. In First Corinthians 9:22, Paul writes to a Corinthian congregation that needs to hear this message of flexibility. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (NIV)

 

Real Giving

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In some ways she was sorry she had come to church this morning. She had been in church every Sunday, of course, but she had never been affected by the scripture reading as she was this particular morning. There it was, right there in the Word of God, the lady in Zarepath who had not only lost her husband, but was down to her last box of baking soda in the refrigerator. That’s all! Even the last bit of catsup went for tomato soup last night. The widow of Zarepath, who after this last bit of bread is gone doesn’t know where the next meal will come.

However, on this Sunday, this woman in the pew felt that the words were meant just for her. She was a young widow. She had a small boy. No passage had ever bothered her like this one.

She was sure she was being touched by God. After his death, different roles were thrust upon her. Her husband always took care of the money and paid the bills. In fact the weekly check for the church was part of the family budget. However, there seemed this day many questions about the routine.

Her mind flashed to the widow in the gospel. “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.(Mark 12:41)

She was thinking there are lots of rich people in this church. She fumbled for her purse to get her weekly offering.

But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.”

She thought can I really hold this widow up as an example for me and my son? Our first reaction is that the widow’s actions are the ideal but not the norm. We always have conflicts between the values of the Gospel and the values of society. Why is it that we always question the Gospel’s values, first?

So many of us are widowed, and yet we haven’t lost a spouse in death. A young couple with their child in tow came into a restaurant. The baby cried and the mother cradled the child and fed him. The dad ate and didn’t want to be bothered. The mother fed the child through the whole meal and didn’t eat. They left without her eating. She sacrificed everything for her child and husband.

All of these widows had something in common, they gave everything that they had! Then came the thought, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) Perhaps, laying down our lives as the scripture says, just may mean giving ourselves for our family, for others, rather than dying. For it is in giving that we receive!

 

It’s A Learning Process

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All of us were outraged to hear in the news about the one year old child left in a closet while mom took dad to work. How could any parent do such a thing? The more we read about it the more disillusioned we become. In an interview, a social worker made the statement, “Some parents have to be trained to be parents.” This is true. While some things seem to come naturally, other things have to be learned.

Perhaps that is a good view about being Christian. Christianity is a learned process. In fact, it is a life long journey of learning to be like Christ. While for some it comes naturally, for others it doesn’t make any sense. I recall the words of Paul, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom 7:15) Sometimes, we are too hard on ourselves trying to live up to the perfect Christ. Give it time, and accept the grace that God offers.

 

John McCarty

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We express our sorrow to John McCarty in the death of his brother. Glenn “Pat” McCarty died today in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

What Are You Worth?

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I like a bargain, if I can find one. It is sometimes difficult to find that balance between a good buy and an item that is quality and looks great. My idea of comfortable is in a pair of old shorts and a worn-out Tee. If you drop in unannounced at my house, you will probably find me in those. Being a minister doesn’t lend itself to wearing this to the job. You have to dress more professional.

I dropped in at an Outlet Mall once that had several stores of major clothing companies. WOW, nice clothes and at reasonable prices! I was in Heaven. Think of it, a poor Disciples minister being able to afford some very nice clothes. I might be able to walk out of the store looking like a Presbyterian or even an Episcopalian.

As I looked through the clothes for my size, all at once I noticed a tag. The tag inside read, “My Be Irregular.” So, as I look for my size, I also look for mistakes. I don’t want to buy anything that has a noticeable mistake.

That says a lot about our lives, doesn’t it? We are all a little irregular. We have cheapened ourselves with our little irregularities. We had been rejected. Not wanted by anyone at the full price. Yet, God came and gathered us up with all of our irregularities and bought us back at an incredible price.