Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Every four years, we are blessed with the opportunity to vote for the leader of our nation. Since September 11, with war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with an unprecedented (in my memory) financial crisis, we’ve been reminded that our votes matter. We live in rapidly changing and unstable times that make incredible demands on leadership – whether national or local, business or church. Yet, politics has become so polarized that many of us are jaded and cynical, and many have opted out of voting all together. Whatever happened to the "polite" in "politics"?

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.

The primitive church existed in a culture that was hostile and violent toward Christian faith. Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul encouraged everyone to "be subject to the governing authorities" and reminded them that God is Sovereign, that God’s kingdom is not at risk to pagan kings. He encouraged people of Christian faith to pray for their kings and authorities. Unlike some of the nations where I have lived and traveled, we do not live in a one-party state in which opposition leaders are routinely exiled and imprisoned. We live in a democracy and have the privilege of choosing and changing our leaders. If God is Sovereign over the Roman Empire, then God is surely Sovereign over our nation and world.

I am not encouraging us to withdraw from the political process or our personal investment in the outcome. I am encouraging everyone to vote. And, I want us all to trust that God is Sovereign and that God’s kingdom does not depend on election outcomes. When the election is over, we’ll have to practice prayer for whomever is elected president. He’ll have a big job in front of him, and he’ll need our prayers to lead these United States and work with leaders throughout the world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Struggling Saint

Saint Augustine, one of the greatest theologians in the history of the Western church, wrote his spiritual journey as a prayer, a story told to God, in his Confessions. He reveals an early struggle as a new disciple of Jesus: He asked his bishop (Saint Ambrose of Milan) to guide his Scripture reading. The results were not inspiring, but it makes me laugh because all of us who have opened the Good Book have encountered the same struggle:

"He recommended the prophet Isaiah: I believe it was because he is a more manifest prophet of the gospel and of the calling of the Gentiles than are the other writers. But in fact I did not understand the first lesson in this book, and thinking the whole work to be similar, I put it aside to be taken up again when I was better accustomed to the Lord's mode of speech" (9.5.13).

I personally wouldn't recommend Isaiah as a starting point, but I do encourage everyone to "read on". The more we read, the more the Scriptures and the gospel come into focus. And I'm happy to refer you to an introduction to the different kinds of reading you'll find in the Bible. There's something for everyone!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Camping pics




View from the nearest overlook (Penn's View), a short drive away along dirt roads, and from the campsite (along the creek). Beautiful! Thanks to Bob for the pics.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Camping Dangerously


Reminds me of the Highwaymen's song, "Like desperados waiting for a train. . . ." It's a wet weekend, but the guys are having fun. Next year we'll get things scheduled earlier so more can attend. Thanks to Christian for coordinating and Bob for handling the camp kitchen!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Diversity in York, 2


A follow up to the Family Issues Roundtable event: A scan of a handout, mapping York County's Hispanic/Latino population. It is exciting to be located where the blessings of many cultures can be shared.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October Fools

Reading in Proverbs, a collection of common sense wisdom, and was caught by a couple descriptions of "fools". Far too easy, and comfortable, to point the finger at others for their foolishness. So, I'll grudgingly admit that these phrases have described me from time to time. Try them on for size:

"Fools die for lack of sense" (Proverbs 10:21).

"Doing wrong is like sport to a fool" (Proverbs 10:23).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In Debt

From an AARP article, cited by Leadership Network: The average American household is now buried under mortgage debt of $84,911, car and tuition loans of $14,414, home equity loans of $10,062 and credit card debt of $8,565—in sum, outstanding debt totaling $117,952. According to other Federal Reserve statistics, average household savings this year are a mere $392.

John Wesley's three guidelines for financial planning:
1. Gain all you can (by hard work, not overcharging!)
2. Save all you can (be thrifty and frugal)
3. Give all you can
He took his own advice. By the time of his death, his income and property (he owned the Methodist society meeting places at the time) made him a very wealthy man. But he lived on the same budget he used when he was a young man and gave everything else away.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baptism - Don't Miss the Boat!







Sunday, October 12, the 11:15 worship service.


Yard Sale




Thanks to everyone who helped out with the Yard Sale and breakfast. We had a lot of fun and got to know some of our neighbors.


Debt Disaster (2)

On Friday I attended a presentation on the state of the economy offered by our financial advisor. (We met with her a few years ago to plan for college savings ... then Robin went back to school!) The presenter said something that helped me understand the impact of debt on the failures of major investment banks. Not a quote, but the gist: If you buy a house with 20% down (1/5 of the value), you are "leveraged" 5:1. If the market value of the home drops by 10%, all that loss comes out of your equity, and you lose 50% of your equity. (That's the multiplying effect of debt or leverage.)

Investment banks packaged mortgages with the basic idea that this would limit risk. And, almost 95% of mortgages are being paid on time. So, why the big trouble? It can't be all because of late payments and foreclosures. To make the kind of money they were making, the investment banks were highly leveraged. Bear Sterns was at 33:1. Even a minor drop in housing values can have a catastrophic effect.

Just one more reminder on the dangers of excessive debt. . . .

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pounding the Pastor


Our goal this year was four times my weight, 676 pounds.
Our total given went through the roof: 764 pounds!

Thanks for your generosity!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Diversity in York


From the York Counts site, an update on diversity trends in our York County school districts, the best measure of trends between the decennial censii. (However, it is important to know that the diversity rate is higher the younger the cohort.)

Building Relationships with Latino/Hispanic Families in York County

The Family Issues Roundtable, an inter-agency community networking and educational group of which I am VP, had a wonderful event on Friday. Norman Bristol Colon, the Executive Director of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, was one of the presenters. He told a story about what happened when he and his girlfriend were walking in a local Wal-Mart and speaking Spanish. A woman came up to them and declared, "Why don't you just go back to the country you came from?" His reply: "Sure, I can do that, but why don't you go back to the country your ancestors came from? If your family was welcomed 250 years ago, then my family can be here today." Unfortunately, churches have not always made the stranger welcome. But Paul writes, "Accept/welcome one another just as Christ accepted/welcomed you" (Romans 15:7). So we have a more urgent reason to welcome the "other", not just our national tradition but also the example of Christ and the command of his Word.

On integration and language acquisition (learning English), the presenters made the point that education and English language speaking are critical for success as Latinos in the USA. But they also reminded us that the process is moving forward following patterns and time frames similar to those of other earlier immigrations (Germans, Poles, etc.) in our nation's past.