Saturday, September 30, 2006

A terrible choice

I just finished reading a remarkable book entitled The Memory-Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards. In it, a physician makes a startling, even horrifying decision which alters his life forever. The book addresses important questions about attitudes towards the handicapped, family relationships, and the keeping of secrets. In the novel, Dr. David Henry gives away his daughter, a twin born with Down's Syndrome, just after her birth, without the knowledge of his sedated wife, whom he later tells that the second child had died. His secret alters the lives of his wife, the remaining "normal" twin, and those they meet.
Another sacrifice of a daughter is recorded in Judges 11, where Israel's military leader, Jephthah, vows that if God gives him victory in battle, he will sacrifice what he sees first when he returns home. To his horror, his daughter rushes out of the house to meet him. Remarkably, Jephthah appears in the "Hall of Fame of Faith" in Hebrews 11. His dedication, his willingness to sacrifice anything for God probably explain his appearance there. Still, his is an unexpected entry alongside Abraham, Noah, and Enoch. Like Samson and Barak, he is an unexpected faith hero.
What do you think? I think his story parallels also Abraham's, when Abraham was asked to sacrifice his "only-begotten" son, Isaac. God spared Abraham from performing that terrible act at the last moment; some argue that Jephthah too was spared and that he "devoted his daughter to God" in some other fashion. His horror suggests otherwise to me.
Sometimes redemption emerges after terrible choices; sometimes it does not. I pray that your life will be filled with hope and redemption.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


A looking within marks many of David's psalms in the Bible. He cries out in anguish; he asks why God has forsaken him. He also rejoices when he discovers, or remembers, the Lord's presence in his darkest hours. In Psalm 31, he laments "the utter contempt" of his neighbors. David's psalms, and the trek of self-discovery they divulge, provide an example of what may be called self-leadership. David was a dynamic leader. He inspired others to do well. He had been a good follower as well, refusing to abandon humility and to revolt even when Saul attacked him. David struggled mightily, and at times failed miserably. But he remained a friend of God and a great leader because he was willing to do what it took to return when he left the will of God. Psalm 51 records repentance after one of his best known sins. Self-leadership includes the ability to see one's faults and correct them. Continuing one's personal growth through lifelong learning and prayer are also part of self-leadership. When we become content with where we are and what we already know, we stagnate. Self-leadership also means being able to discern when to take a break and when to let others lead. So, grow! Lead, if only yourself! The Lord will bless your leadership as it remains focused on his will.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Travel Ramblings

I drove two thousand miles last week, travelling almost all the way across the United States. From the live oaks of Georgia to the rolling hills and rivers of Tennessee to the isolated wilderness (and a meteor crater) of West Texas to the almost alien landscapes of New Mexico and Arizona, I witnessed great natural beauty and evidence of God's greatness.
Human interaction also provided intriguing insights into God's workmanship. I saw several friends I had not seen for a long time. With one, it was as if we had seen each other the day before. Hopefully, it will not be nearly so long before the next meeting. With each, I marvelled at how they had changed, and what our relationship said about who I am. Could it be that our friends define us?
I visited the campus of Abilene Christian University. May its leaders keep alive a hunger for being Bod's people among their students and may they always honor those whose love for the Lord and desire to build leaders for a restoration of New Testament Christianity was a catalyst for great sacrfices as they laid the foundation for today's university.
I visited several churches of Christ. They ranged greatly in size and in personality. One was thoroughly integrated racially, another had elderly members, another had a large number of high school and college students. Yet, in each the people loved to sing God's praises and the preacher proclaimed a message from God's word. Each church had problems, I am sure, but I had not come to search for them.
Now I begin a new phase of life and ministry. This blog will continue, but may at times reflect my different geographic setting. Pray for me as I do for all who read this, that I may know courage and hope.
I saw an intriguing bumper sticker as I traveled: "May God give you twice what you wish for me." My first thought was, "What a wonderful sentiment, to wish so much good." Then I had a more cynical thought; perhaps this was an admonition for those who wished him ill. Let's break away from hurtful wished and road rage. Wish the stranger in the next car the best. He or she may be having a much worse day than yours. As I drove through an Ohio city years ago, a man who passed me blew his horn and flashed an obscene gesture at me. Then I saw his bumper sticker, "Christians aren't perfect, only forgiven. How true. You and I may make horrible mistakes, but if we keep our eyes on Jesus (Read Hebrews chapter 12), we may discover that God has not given up on us yet. Show God's grace wherever you go.