A Sermon Somewhere: On February, The Perfectly Adequate Month

Standard

Long time followers of this blog know that I am not a huge fan of January.  Actually, now that I think of it, they probably don’t.  I haven’t yet mentioned my distaste for the cold, cerebral 31 days that try to pass off as a legitimate month named January.

Let me try again.  .  .

Long time and new followers of this blog might be surprised to know that I am not a huge fan of January.  It is cold, bleak and miserable and it seems all the more so because it follows the festivities of the Holidays.  December gives us Christmas lights and candy.  January gives us obesity and failed New Year’s resolutions.  January is also the month most Starbucks finally run out of the Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup, so January has that against it too.

With that said, over the last two weeks I have watched an entire foot of snow melt off of my lawn.  The temperatures have risen to above 50 degrees.  The sun has come out and the days are getting longer.

I was thinking about all this yesterday and it suddenly occurred to me that February, unlike its predecessor, is a perfectly adequate month.

For one, the Roman Emperors, Julius and Augustus, both stole days from February and added them to their namesake months.  This makes February the abused and bullied underdog.  And everybody loves a good underdog.

Boy did February get its revenge.

First, February added one day to its calendar every four years just to throw everyone off.

Then February created a holiday for groundhog’s.  Why you ask?  So that February could taunt people with the hope of Spring long before Spring actually arrived.  It was brilliant.

Valentine’s day is an adequate enough holiday too.  It celebrates.  .  .candy hearts.  .  .I think?  Still, everybody likes chocolate and sugar.  They certainly beat the hot dogs typically associated with July and August.

February also has “President’s Day” which is a little bit superfluous given the excess of patriotic holidays but still, a free Monday off from school to go skiing on the first of the Spring powder isn’t all bad.

And let’s not forget that after a bleak, festivity less January, February gives everyone one last taste of Autumn by holding an epic football match played in front of 150 million people complete with ridiculous commercials (which rival the absurdity of Christmas ones) and a half time concert with fireworks stolen right from your July celebrations.  Take that Julius!

But then to top it all off, February also was the month both my children were born.  Oh and my father, without whom I wouldn’t be alive.  In fact, my children are probably why I suddenly remembered that February exists instead of doing what I used to do, which was tell everybody “It’s still January” for 28 extra days.

With all that said, I think it is pretty clear that February is like Liam Neeson in Taken or Mel Gibson in Payback.  The month was down but it wasn’t out and boy did it bring out the groundhogs, footballs, candy hearts and baby children to exact its brutal revenge!

And everybody loves a good comeback revenge story.

I’m not sure if you agree with me or not but either way, I think we can all agree there has to be a sermon in this month somewhere or probably exactly four of them since February can’t have 5 Sundays, unless it is a leap year.

Golden Globes, Football, Fiscal Years and Epiphany: A Tale of Liturgical Seasons

Standard

My church kicked off the season of epiphany in style this morning with a fun Epiphany introductory video I made with some kids.  Then we sang the traditional We Three Kings, followed by a bunch of fun upbeat songs about “light.”   Then we read the lectionary Psalm (#29) together and talked about what it means to be in Jesus’ fan club.

But I have to be honest and admit that now Christmas is over, Epiphany is one of the last things on my mind.  Instead, this first month of a New Year is weighed down by seasons of another sort.

My news feeds are saturated with stories of the Golden Globes, reminding me that for the entertainment industry this is Awards Season, a time filled with what we might call liturgies of human glory and honor.  In fact, if I was a bit more of an arrogant Hebrew Prophet I would call the awards shows worship services to the idols of vanity.

So too my social media feeds remind me that the NFL is providing another season, or rather a post season.  This week we watched the first of the teams falter in their quest for dominance, a liturgy itself of human strength and cunning.  And we watch and wait to see which team will rise to the top.  150 million will watch the last match, which is a bit more than the number of people who voted for a US President just months ago.  The angry Hebrew prophet in me is tempted to call those games worship services, worship to the idols of violence and competition.

Then there is this other thing weighing on my heart and, mostly, mind.  My church ends its fiscal year on February 28th this year.  With the close of a fiscal year comes a mountain high list of responsibilities.  We have numbers to crunch, vision to share, a new board to elect and goals to set, all of which will be accomplished with no less than 1 dozen business meetings.  We might call these a liturgy of institution.  The arrogant, angry and overwhelmed Hebrew prophet in me is tempted to call those meetings worship services themselves, worship to the idol of human control and manipulation.

Yet today was not just the first Sunday of Epiphany.  It was also the Baptism of our Lord.  The Gospel text for today was Matthew 3, that famous story where Jesus begins his ministry by entering into the waters of the Jordan River.  John the Baptist didn’t know quite what to do with Jesus in the water and I don’t either.  Baptism is for sinners.  Jesus had not sinned.  The waters are for the spiritually dead.  Jesus was more spiritually alive than anybody has ever been.  The sacrament is for humans.  Jesus is the Son of God.  Yet here is Jesus, wading into the waters of death, sin and chaos and beginning his ministry right where we are at.

In a way the Baptism of Jesus reenacts the incarnation.  This might be why Mark and John leave out the manger, in favor of the water.  In the baptism waters Jesus is taking on flesh again, taking on the unique position of being a human after Adam, a human represented by all humanity’s shortcomings.  This is a God entering into sin and death as one of us.  Like the manger, this is Immanuel, a God with us, a God among us, a God meeting us in our human liturgies of award shows, violent competition and financial reporting.  Here is God in the flesh, come to redeem us from the life taking, death dealing liturgies of the world and light up the better way which is the only way, the liturgy of the cross and the resurrection.

So my hope this Epiphany season is that God will enter into our awards shows, our sporting matches and our business meetings and bring new Epiphany so that our feet can stay on the path of life!

What Do We Do With All These Celebrities? A Sermon on Elijah

Standard

Last week I posted the whole manuscript of my sermon and I received some good feedback.  I am equally passionate about this week’s topic so decided to do it again.  I deleted some of the more superfluous paragraphs this time around for quicker perusing.  I hope all you perusers enjoy a good peruse.

Introduction

For some time now I have wanted to talk to all of you about a deep, long lasting and widespread Christian heresy.  Although I have addressed this in a few other sermons, it has been hard to take just one Sunday to bring it up.

The reasons for refraining were numerous.  The first is that I am really passionate about this and sometimes overrides good sense.  And, at least me, passion is most often off putting than persuasive.

The second reason is that this is currently a very popular belief in Christian culture and one that is hard to preach about without offending anybody.

This leads me to my third reason, that I was just afraid.  In Luke chapter 4 Jesus preaches a sermon very similar to what I am about to preach and the end result was his hometown citizens tried to throw him off of a cliff.

So you need to know that I unlocked this side door over here and when you bring out the pitchforks and torches, good luck catching me!

But what Jesus said in Luke 4 was that Elijah’s most significant miracles was done for a widowed single mom who lived in another country.  And they were not big fans of that observation.

Because they and we have this belief that just because we voted for someone or we bought someone’s movies or listened to their music or watched their T.V. show that means God likes them more than God likes us.  We seem to think that God can use them more than God can use normal, everyday people.

And that is wrong.

Yet I keep hearing Christians say that very thing in so many ways.  So before I move we need to talk about human celebrity and human politics as they relate to what God is doing in the world.  It seems to me that God who would rather work with nobodies who live in deserts than with football players who score touchdowns and Kings who write laws.

And I think this is good news.  This is a huge part of the gospel, that our God is so big and powerful that God does not need human power or wealth.  At times God doesn’t even appear to want it.

And I am saying this, this morning, fully aware that the Super Bowl is this afternoon and obviously God has a favorite team that God wants to win and let’s just say it is not the New England cheaters.  .  .I mean, Patriots, but really can you call them Patriots if they cheat?

I am joking but Super Bowl Sunday is as good a Sunday as any to remind ourselves that we are just as valuable to God as any football player or politician or celebrity.

I say that and I still want to be careful and not belittle or demean what some celebrities are doing for our faith right now.  I give most of them the benefit of the doubt and would argue that they are doing what we are doing, namely trying to remain faithful to God in the context that God called them too.

A God Who Loves Nobodies

Yet in Scripture, God does not seem to need them or want their celebrity and power.

Here is why I think that is:  Using nobodies reveals or even perfects God’s power.  The apostle Paul teaches us, it is actually my life verse, that power is made perfect through weakness.  So by using barren people who live in barren deserts, God’s power is perfected.

That is maybe why but here is a thought on how that works.  It goes back to the made up religions and their little “g” gods.

If I was going to invent another religion and another god, my god would first have a name that evokes power.  My God would be named “Mountain god” or “lightning bolt god” or “Sun god.”  It would not be “molehill god” or “spark god.”

Then this fictional god with the made up power name would do three things all for my benefit.  First that god would make me wealthy.  Second that god would satisfy all my appetites and hormones.  Third that god would me powerful.

And several anthropologists and sociologists and historians have noted for us that all false religions and false forms of religion go back to those three things.  Any time anybody has made up a god that god has served the purpose of making people powerful, wealthy and satisfied.

In the Old Testament you see this in all the false gods and idols.  We invent a fertility goddess to help us have more children.  Now today children are a handful but back then you put your kids to work in your farm fields and household when they were three or four.

So if you had 12 children, you had twelve slaves and twelve slaves can generate a lot of income.  And if those 12 are all boys you are really rolling in the dough but it is okay if some are girls because you can sell them for money.  But if you could not have children you went broke.  So they invented a fertility goddess that they could sacrifice and pray to and ask for children.

Then they invented a god of war and power.  This god would help you win battles and make you a king.  If you sacrificed to this god that god would help you conquer your neighbor’s land and enslave him and his sons so that now you can farm 40 times the land you could when it was just you.

Then they had gods of pleasure who rewarded you with good food from exotic lands, all the food you could eat and all the women you could want.

The funny thing is that so far this all sounds like good news, right?  Who wouldn’t want an all powerful god to multiply my dollars, land, kids and pleasures?

But they did not stop there.  They reversed the formula and if you all ready were wealthy with a lot of kids and you were famous and had access to pleasure, they assumed the gods liked you.  You did something good to get them in your favor.  However, if you were poor, had no access to pleasure and no children and no kingdom then obviously the gods hate you and you are a sinner.   Therefore, we get to either enslave you or kill you depending on how useful you are.  So the wealthy are virtuous and loved and the poor are lousy sinners.

Today we look at them 3,000 years ago and say, “oh how unenlightened and silly they were,” yet I still hear people, even Christians, arguing much the same thing.

But here is why the Christian message is good news:  Israel’s story begins when Abraham, a poor guy, living in the desert with no access to exotic food or women, married to a barren wife (so no children) finds favor with God!  The true God, the not made up God, goes out to the desert and recruits a poor, barren couple to advance God’s purposes.

This plays out all throughout Scripture.  Any time God goes to do anything it starts with the least and lonely and broken and hurting and poor.  God seems to ignore kings and celebrities in favor of working out his purposes among the nobodies.

Moses is a sheep herder out in the Canaan and is recruited to go to Egypt to free the people.  Moses is worse than those without money and power and pleasure.  He used to have those things and now has none.  That must mean the gods really hate him, to take away all that stuff.

Yet Moses is the one recruited by God to free the people.  By the way, the name Moses is given for God is not a power name but instead is, “I AM,” which means “I am present God.  I am here for you God.”  I am not the God of lightning or mountains or wildflowers or the sun (though I created those things).  Instead call me that God that is here among you.

Samuel is an altar boy, whose mother was barren before she had him.  He is recruited to be the first great prophet, not because he is special or powerful but because his mother was barren.  God loves barren women.  The false gods hate them, or else they would have children but our God blesses them!

David is a sheep herder out in the nowhere Bethlehem and is recruited by Samuel to be King and before David becomes King he is a man after God’s own heart but after he becomes King he is all about himself, adultery, murder and raising armies to go conquer nations God does not want them to conquer.

What Angry Elijah Learned

1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings this play out. Samuel and Kings are a compilation of stories about the Kings of Israel and the Kings of Judah and if you read it, it is a four volume anthology to how worthless kings are.  Even David, the one after God’s own heart, becomes King and immediately becomes worthless.  Even the good kings who followed God were powerless to keep people faithful.

So we read 1 and 2 Samuel and then the first several chapters of 1 Kings and we get disgusted at all these lousy and powerless kings who can’t do anything good for the Lord.

Then we get to Elijah’s story which starts in chapter 17.  By the time we get to Elijah, we the readers are meant to be furious with these worthless kings.  Then Elijah bursts on the scene and he is mad too.  His anger is very much written to harness our anger.

Elijah wasn’t a king.  Elijah was a prophet.  Right before he bursts on the scene we are told that King Ahab married a wicked woman named Jezebel.

You can read about that in 1 Kings 16.  Jezebel came from Sidon.  All the Sidonians worshiped the false god Baal.  Baal means “high up god” because if I am going to invent a god I would name my god something like, “my god is higher up than your god.”  It is kind of like, “My dad can beat your dad up god!”

Jezebel was sent by the prophets of Baal to convert Israel to Ball worship and where does she go, where can she go but to the throne room.  If my god is “High Up god” than I need the high up place of a throne room to advance his purposes.  Jezebel uses her feminine wiles to marry the King of Israel whose name was Ahab.  Once she married Ahab she convinced Ahab to kill the prophets of God and set up temples and worship spots to Baal.

Follow with me here, Jezebel is the prophet of Baal who is sent to Israel and she goes to the center of Israel’s power, the throne room, manages to get Ahab on her side and begins converting people to Baal.

So Elijah confronts the evil king Ahab and his worse wife Jezebel and Elijah declares a famine on the land until they get their act together.  It does not work.  Ahab doesn’t repent.  Instead he and Jezebel seem to say to each other, “Oh, we thought we killed all the prophets.  Nuts, we missed one.  Well kill him too!”

In chapter 17 verse 2 we are told, “Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah”

Remember word of the Lord does not just mean God spoke.  Word means wisdom.  The wisdom of the Lord came to Elijah and what did the wisdom of God say,

“Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.”

Let me paraphrase.  The word of the Lord came to Elijah and said, “RUN YOU FOOL!  GET OUT OF TOWN!  They are trying to kill you, you moron!”

Elijah runs.  He spends a few days in the Kerith Ravine and then goes to Sidon.  Sidon is where Jezebel came from and where the false god Baal is worshipped.

Elijah doesn’t go the throne room of Sidon, though.  Instead he ends up at a poor widows house, a single mom.  Then and now single moms are the epitome of no power, no wealth and no pleasure.  That is exactly where God sends Elijah.  While Elijah is there Elijah multiplies food for her and raises her son from the dead.  No matter how powerful your king is, he can’t multiply food and raise anybody from the dead.  But Jesus can and did those things hundreds of years later.

Follow with me here, Jezebel the prophetess of Baal tries to take over Israel by going to the center of power.  Elijah, the Israelite messenger of the true God is sent to Sidon but not to any place of power but to a poor, powerless single mom in the desert.

After a time God calls Elijah back to Ahab, but not to convert Ahab but to end the drought.  Before the drought is ended there is this wonderful shoot out on a mountain where all Ahab’s prophets face down all one of Elijah and they see whose God can set the most stuff on fire.

I am not joking.  That was the competition.  Remember God had just raised someone from the dead two chapters ago.  Setting stuff on fire seems petty.  The average guy with a cigarette butt can set things on fire.  But God can set things on fire, praise God!  So Elijah wins and those who are there see the miracle of God and join Elijah’s side.  Elijah says, “Kill all the false prophets.”  So they do.

And it doesn’t work.  The next chapter, Jezebel the wicked wife is furious that her prophets are dead and she doubles her hit on Elijah.  And Elijah’s zealous followers are nowhere to be found.  Elijah runs out to another mountain and he throws a holy tantrum before God.

Elijah tells God, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

I will be honest with you that when I hear Christians gripe against the world today I think they are a lot like Elijah throwing proud pity parties on mountains.

Maybe God’s words to us would be God’s words to Elijah:

15The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.”

God’s answer is I have more nobodies from more deserts.

17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu.

Today if you hear me saying there won’t be justice for evil kings, read verse 17.  There will be justice.

18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

We hear of 7,000 and think that isn’t a lot but back then it was.  It was a good sized group of people who still worshiped God.

Elijah, come home from your ego trip.  There are 7,000 just like you.  You are not special and no Ahab and no Jezebel and no false god Baal are going to beat me with silly human celebrity and silly human power.  I have 7,000 nobodies in deserts who are greater than any King or Queen or false god.

Conclusion

Just because the politicians and celebrities are not doing what I want them to do, does not mean I am losing.  Instead I have 7,000 nobodies living in deserts and that is all I need.

If Jesus were someone we made up 2,000 years ago we would need as many celebrities and politicians and football players to give him lip service on national and even worldwide television.  After all human power is the only way powerless idols stay in power.

So if we made Jesus up we would be desperate for someone popular and powerful to say his name.  Strangely, in Scripture I get the sense God doesn’t want us to say God’s name all that much but that is another sermon for another day.

Likewise if we made Jesus up we would be desperate for wealthy people to write us checks and more kings to approve our building permits so that we could build more temples on hilltops.

But if Jesus really was the son of God who became flesh and who died on the cross to free us from the powers of darkness then we don’t need them.

All we need to do is remain faithful ourselves to the God who is faithful in choosing us.

It might be cool when the celebrities decide to come along but ultimately God chooses the weak and powerless and foolish because that is just what a powerful God would do.  That is the wisdom of our faith and the wisdom of the cross.

The apostle Paul says it in 1st Corinthians.  Paul says that God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

That is the wisdom of our God right there.  It is a wisdom that does not gets its underwear in a knot every time the President does something we disagree with.  It is the wisdom that says there are 7000 barren people living in barren deserts whom God loves and is working through.

It is the wisdom that says that as long as God has tiny churches in places like Elgin, Oregon who are willing to open their building for the teenagers of the community to practice archery and learn a bit about Jesus then Christianity will flourish.

As long as God has a group of people who meet regularly to pray and read Scripture and have a conversation about what faithfulness looks like in our current world, Christianity will flourish.

As long as God has families who are willing to open their homes to foster children and orphans and adopt them as children and siblings, Christianity will flourish.

As long as there are groups of people who get together to talk about what houses need painting, what elderly need their leaves raked and driveways plowed and how to accomplish that Christianity will flourish.

As long as desert widows and shepherd boys and altar kids and diseased elderly offer themselves to the Almighty God, Christianity will do just fine.

God doesn’t need or want human wealth.  God doesn’t need or want human power.  God doesn’t need or want human celebrities.  Instead our God chooses the outcast nobodies who are barren and live in deserts and that is how God wins.

As I said at the beginning, that is good news because the false gods hate nobodies but our God loves them and cherishes them.

Let’s pray.

The Activity of God: 2 Case Studies

Standard

Two things happened fairly close to home this weekend that have dominated national headlines.  The first happened within 100 miles of my house on a stretch of highway I drive often.  The second happened just a few hundred meters away from where my brother in law works and my brother in law watched the whole thing from a few meters away.

What caught my attention about both was not their nearness to me but that God was given credit for both.

The first happened Saturday morning, on Interstate 84 right outside of Baker City.  Icy roads and foggy conditions led to a 20 car pileup affecting more than 100 people.  Although several dozen were injured, the picture (right) that made the incident viral was of a man named Kaleb Whitby, who is younger than I am.  Kaleb walked away from the accident with two band aids on his face, but sadly, without a truck.

He probably should be dead, or at least on life support or at the very least on crutches.  Instead he is alive with 2 band aids.  His exact quote, according to the press was, “Thank God that I’m still alive.  Now I’ve got to go figure out why.”

As a pastor I find that quote endearing.   The laws of probability (laws which God created, a random number generator of sorts) dictate that he should be dead.  With that said, it might have been dumb luck and stranger things have certainly happened, though not often.  Yet as a believer I have no problem stating that God would reprogram that random number generator to keep Kaleb alive.  We call that a miracle.

The second thing that happened was that the Seattle Seahawks won both an onside kick and a coin toss, which then led to a conference championship and a trip to the Super Bowl.  My brother in law, who works for the Mariners, was on the sidelines watching the whole thing.  I am in a family of Seahawks fans and cheer for them when I am not cheering for the Chiefs.  I was thrilled they won but their game had been ugly up to the final minutes of the 4th quarter.  They had thrown 4 interceptions and received a ridiculous amount of avoidable penalties, the majority of which were because a player was on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage.

Still a great defensive line, a few miracle plays, the onside kick that bounced into their player’s hands and the luck of a coin toss led to the Seattle victory.

Moments after the game an understandably emotional Russell Wilson gave his team credit for staying in the game and stated how he “had no doubt.”  Then he said, “God prepared me for this game.  God prepared the team for this.”  Then the camera switched to a shot of the Seahawks’ players praying in a circle with one Packer in the mix.  I do not know, nor would I judge if I did, what they were praying.  Still, the entire event was one example of many that football is inventing a spirituality all its own.

Still, I wonder about Russell Wilson’s claim that God prepared them to win the game.  If I were not a Christian I would wonder at the absurdity of such a God, since Seattle was so unprepared they threw 4 interceptions and couldn’t keep their players on the right side of the line of scrimmage half the time.  I might argue that it seems to be the luck of a bouncy football and a coin toss that won the game, alongside an incredible defense that more than covered the offense’s sins.

Still, I am a Christian believer and must treat Wilson’s statement, along with Whitby’s above, with theological earnestness.

As a pastor, I would ask, “Does God really overrule the random number generator that governs the rest of us to save young men’s lives and help Seattle win football games?”

This question has many answers but I will focus on two.  The first is a philosophical one.  What can we say about a God who easily saves Kaleb Whitby’s live but leaves our high school secretary, who is an incredibly devout Christian and loving servant to our teenagers, with cancer?  Why easily override the laws to save Kaleb and not override those same laws to save the secretary?  Is such a God even good?  At the very least, philosophers argue, God should account for why the angels saved Kaleb and won’t save the secretary.

It gets worse with Seattle’s win.  I know very devout servants of Christ who are Packers fans and they feel wronged and robbed of a victory they probably deserved.  (I admit this, even though I am a Seahawks fan.)  More than that, a God who overrides the laws of a coin toss to help Seattle win is even more a tyrant for not doing so to save the lives of countless others who are starving to death or dying of cancer or being annihilated by extremists in the middle east.  Is a God good who prepares people to win football games, but has done lousy at preparing football teams to eradicate hunger and death?  Once again, philosophers would argue such a God should at least give an account of why.

However, I am not a philosopher.  I took required philosophy classes in college and seminary and went no further in the subject.  Perhaps because of that, I think that if God did indeed save Kaleb’s life and prepare Seattle to win, God would certainly be able to give us an account of why.  I trust God completely in those situations to do what is right.  In fact, if God were to show up and give an account it would probably be a lot like the one given to Job, “Who are you to contend with me?”

There is a second way to consider this question.  It is from a theological and Biblical perspective.  Luckily I took my fair share of Bible and Theology classes in college and seminary so I feel a bit more prepared in those areas.  In fact as I have thought about these two situations over the last day, I cannot get away from the 3rd Commandment which is, “Do not use the Lord’s name in vain.”

To call someone by name is to evoke their entire presence and bring their entire being to bear in the situation.  So a better translation of the 3rd commandment might be, “Don’t bring God into vain contexts” or “Be careful when you bring up God that it is not to address a foolish subject.”

This idea plays out in all of Scripture.  It certainly does so at the end of Job, where God seems to be mad that his name was brought haphazardly into Job’s conversation with friends.  In Isaiah 29:13 God speaks through the prophet saying, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”  Jesus quotes this again in Matthew 15 to describe the Pharisees who led the way in talking about God and bringing God’s name and presence into situations but did not lead the way in actual service to God.

With this in mind what do we say about the claims made of God this past weekend?  I know most Christians are delighted that God was even brought up in such high profile cases and I struggle to not be happy as well.  I also do not want to violate another commandment of Jesus’, mainly that of being hyper critical.

Still, it would seem to me that the God of Scripture would certainly break the rules of probability to save Kaleb Whitby’s life.  I do not know Kaleb.  He might be a model Saint or a lousy sinner.  He probably is like me, somewhere in between.  Regardless, Scripture reveals a God who works miracles to save the lives of all types of saints and sinners.  I hope that Kaleb finds a great mentor to help him answer his question about why God would save his life and what he should do next.  At the same time, I am sad that God is not doing the same for our High School secretary and pray often that God will.  Still, the God of Scripture would absolutely save Kaleb’s life for no other reason than love of the world and of Kaleb and his family.

The Seahawks are a different story.  We know that football certainly is vain.  It is a fun thing we do and a great pastime and I enjoyed the game yesterday as much as anybody.  Furthermore, I would never invent a new legalism by insisting people not watch it or play it.  Still, it is not an area of great spiritual meaning.  Football is vanity.

To attach God’s name and presence to something as vain as football would surely be a violation of the 3rd commandment.  It would be similar to telling people my wife loves green peppers.  My wife hates green peppers and if she overheard me saying she liked them she would either assume I was an ignorant husband who refused to notice even the rarest thing about her or she would assume I was a liar.  Both would not bode well for me.

I wish sometimes the church would give God the same attention.  Instead we try to attach God’s name to everything and anything that comes our way without stopping to ask whether God really wants to be a part of it.  In so doing, we might be force feeding God green peppers.  Or, to dispense with the metaphor, we are honoring God with our lips but our hearts are a universe away.

The God of Scripture does not prepare people to win football games nor would the God of Scripture rewrite the random number generator of the cosmos (a number generator God invented) to help one team win a vain and silly game over another.

With that said, I am delighted Seattle won and I am even more delighted that Kaleb Whitby is still alive.  I attribute the second to a God of life and love who overwrites the rules so that both may continue.  The first, I attribute to the random number generator that the God of life invented but doesn’t micromanage.  I guess you might call Seattle’s win dumb luck.

Still go Seahawks!  May that luck continue against the Patriots.

Kaleb, my prayers are with you and your family.  May the God of life and love continue to shower both to you as you seek to live a fruitful life.