Monday, April 25, 2016

Defeat Evil with Good

The sermon I gave at the First Baptist Church of Redlands on Sunday is now available online. I explore the Scripture below (the underlined portions being the responsive reading) with examples and application from our community's response to the December 2 San Bernardino shootings.

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:9-21‬ ‭(CEB‬‬):

Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good. If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord. Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head. Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.

An additional Scripture was ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:13-16‬ ‭(CEB‬‬):
You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.
The benediction was‭‭ Galatians‬ ‭6:2, 9-10‬ ‭(CEB‬‬):
Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up. So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Speaking Sunday

For those interested, I will be giving the sermon at the First Baptist Church of Redlands (51 W. Olive Avenue, Redlands, CA 92373) on Sunday, April 24. The service is at 10:15AM. The title of my message is Defeat Evil with Good, and the Scripture will be ‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:9-21‬.

Monday, April 11, 2016


Having a toddler and infant can be... exasperating at times. But then you see the smiles, the hugs, and the kisses.

This weekend, the little ones reminded us of priorities in life.

We went to the LA Times Festival of Books, where a heavy downpour started. As everyone ran under tents, the toddler promptly ran into the middle of it, face to the sky, with the happiest look ever, tongue out, dancing in the rain (and puddles). Our first reaction was, ugh, he's going to be soaked, dirty (etc., etc.). But then we noticed his joy (and the joy he brought to others around him). Water dries, and clothes can be washed.

Sometimes it's worth getting wet to be able to dance in the rain.

And then on the way to church, it was a very overcast today. We were rushing (as usual) and got on the freeway. As we change freeways, the toddler exclaims, "Oh my gosh! There's clouds! Look at the clouds out your window! And there's clouds on my window, too!!"

Don't just stop to smell the roses. Clouds can be pretty cool, too.

At the Festival of Books, we got to hear a talk by Buzz Aldrin and then get a book signed by him (yeah, that was pretty cool). My toddler and I listened to 40 minutes from someone who walked on the moon, so lots of stories, right? Well, the interviewer at one point asked Aldrin how one pees in space, and he talks about a UCD (urine collection device), and how it's important to empty it. He tells how he sees Neil Armstrong successfully walking on the moon surface, not sinking or anything bad. So Aldrin decides before he goes down the ladder, it would probably be good to, um, empty his UCD. The interviewer says, "So while Neil is taking one giant leap for mankind..." Aldrin finished, "I peed in my pants." Everyone laughs, and Brendan looks up at me with a smile and says, "He peed in his pants?!"

Be careful what you say. Little ones (and adults) will not always remember what you want them to remember.

The kingdom of heaven truly belongs to the children...

Monday, April 4, 2016

In Support of Flip-Flopping

During the election season, there is much criticism over candidates' "flip-flopping," or changing positions on issues. In many cases, the argument is that the particular candidate isn't a "dyed in the wool" person committed to a particular set of values, but rather being someone who came to a new position later.

But why is changing one's mind a bad thing? Especially for leaders, don't we want someone who can consider new information and potentially change their minds? Aren't intelligence, wisdom, and leadership built upon these principles? Someone whose mind cannot be changed and has shown no history of thoughtful development doesn't seem to be a mature person who deserves to be a leader. Especially at the level of President, an individual needs to be able to hear and see new information and make new, informed decisions, which might even surprise themselves.

Another argument against flip-flopping is that the candidate isn't sincere and is just saying what they think people want to hear. Now, I want a candidate who will sincerely uphold what they say they'll do. However, isn't it our elected officials' jobs to listen to the people and uphold their will as much as is possible? If a candidate knows a position is what people want, it is their job to advocate for that position, even if it doesn't match their own perspective.

Now someone who is claiming one thing and doing something else entirely does have a problem. And many candidates do claim a certain value system that is pretty obviously false. These can definitely be issues of integrity and trustworthiness.

But someone changing their mind and stance isn't a problem in my mind. It's mature.


Got a question, struggle, or doubt you'd like to see addressed here? Contact me, and I'll try to discuss it (and may even help you get an answer).