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Homemade self-righteousness

We are becoming, or have become (depending on your perspective) those people. In an effort to be good stewards or resourceful, we make a lot of our own stuff. We’re not quite at the stage of making our own leather belts or coonskin hats, but if this trend continues, don’t be surprised if I open up a shop on Etsy. For now, our making of stuff has been confined to the kitchen. We make our own kombucha and kefir. Mouthwash, toothpaste (or in our case, tooth clay or tooth powder) and deodorant is produced there as well. The beautiful bride has made a myriad of all natural, homemade salves and tinctures to address a multitude of maladies. So, when she decided a couple of weeks ago to begin making sourdough bread, it just seemed natural (ha, I’m punny!)

Truthfully, I understand very little about what it takes to make sourdough bread. All I know is that there is a glob of dough that everyday must be “fed” and at some point, via unseen actions, it becomes a tasty treat.

This process in the kitchen was going on as I was preparing for the privilege of preaching from the Gospel of Mark. Though sourdough remains a mystery to me, I think I grasp ordinary breadmaking – take some dough, add some yeast, beat the daylights out of it, bake it and whammo, bread. Our church family has been going through this account of Jesus’ life and ministry, and this past Sunday I was preaching from Mark 8, which includes this interchange between Jesus and His disciples, and because making bread was on my mind and  in my kitchen, this portion became very vivid to me:

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Unsung lyrics

As you celebrate Independence Day today, consider these often omitted lyrics from the Battle Hymn of the Republic:

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.”

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgement seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubliant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Indeed, Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! As we celebrate our country today, may our gaze be consistently fixed on Christ who is the Author of all our liberty.

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No man controls my future

The title above is not a statement of defiance, but a declaration of dependence.

Most, if not all, believers would agree to the overriding doctrine of the sovereignty of God. We may quibble with one another over particular nuances of God’s sovereignty, but we can agree in at least a general sense that we are all subjects of an Almighty King. We can agree that the prescribed chain of authority begins with God and not with us. We can agree that God is in control, and we sometimes find ourselves singing songs at church that proclaim that truth. We believe that man does not have the permission (or ability) to direct God in what He is to do, that He does not receive instructions from us. We affirm these truths with our mouths, then…

  • We get stuck in traffic and lose our composure with fellow drivers.
  • We are awaiting a decision on a promotion at work.
  • We find out we were not accepted to whichever school was going to be most beneficial to our future career.
  • The potential buyer for our property backs out at the last possible minute.
  • Our favored political candidate loses an election.
  • We are presented with a job performance evaluation and we sweat over what might be said or done at its conclusion.
  • A brilliant idea/vision comes to mind and we are anxiously awaiting buy-in from key people – spouse, family, friends, business partners, etc.

The list could (and does) go on. Functionally, in each of these situations and more, we live and think as if the course of our future is completely dependent on mankind. “If only they will say yes” or “the only hope for our country is if Candidate X wins” or “I hope the admissions office accepts me”. We all have done this. What is really fascinating is that when these tense decision moments come up, when they go our way, we are very quick to give thanks to God; but when they do not go our way, we get into name calling and character assassination of the individual(s) responsible for making the decision.

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