Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Remember the scene? Allow me to quote from Part I of this series (which can be read in its entirety to clicking HERE):
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
I have sat in the front row of church now for many years, in all the different locations our church has met in, including a body shop back in the early years. (In those days the men had to move the cars, hose down the floors, and set up the folding chairs!) Lately I have been reflecting on the front row, with some practical and some symbolic thoughts about it.
First of all, in secular events, front row seats are prized. Think about concerts and sporting events: the front row seats are the most coveted seats. But at church, many people shy away from the front row. Now I’m not talking about a conference with a big-name speaker up in front. At that kind of event, the front rows are taken. I’m talking about church. (And I suppose, if a worship service is conducted like a concert or spectator sport, the front rows might be crowded.) But how often do most folks shy away from sitting in the front row Sunday morning? And why do they do that? What’s the difference between a rock concert and a worship service? A whole lot, that’s what.
Now from a human level, when you are the speaker, it’s difficult to speak over three or four empty rows. One of the duties of the speaker is to overcome the rhetorical distance so he or she can connect with the audience. But at church, the saints are not an audience; they are worshipers. But if the minister has to preach over a few empty rows, it is more of a challenge than if he has a crowded front row.
The front row is the most vulnerable spot in church. Not only are you under the pastor’s eye, but the rest of the congregation can watch you from the back. It’s much more comfortable in an obscure back row seat. The front row can make you feel like you are exposed. At a concert or a football game, this is not the case. Worship is when we meet with the living God, so it’s tempting to draw back.
But let’s look at this from a spiritual or symbolic angle. When we sit in the front row, we are crowding in to meet with God, eager to be near Him, hungry for His word. Consider these verses:
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
“It is good for me to draw near to God. I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works” (Psalm 73:28).
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
When we sit in the front row (or rows), we are drawing near to God. We are near the pulpit and near the table, eager to receive the Word, hungry for the bread and the wine. We are drawing near to God so He will draw near to us.
An empty front row suggests fear. Or apathy. It could also come from a false sense of politeness: Who am I to sit in the front row? But we are invited to come, so we should crowd in!
Of course we could sit in the front row for all the wrong reasons, and we could sit in the back for all the right reasons. But my point is this: feeling vulnerable isn’t bad. Draw near to God. Sit near the pulpit. Crowd in. Be eager to be fed.
We worship with our bodies: “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). We worship with our bodies, and this certainly includes where we put them. This implies a glad surrender, a sweet resignation to God.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Fighting for Family Dinners
by Chuck Colson
The dangers facing young people today are many: premarital sex, drug abuse, suicide, and dropping out among them. And if you listen to the “experts,” there are no easy answers for protecting our kids. And of course they are right. But saying there are no easy answers is entirely different from saying there are noanswers.
I believe there is something moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers can do and start doing it tonight — that’s right — tonight — to make a real difference in the lives of our young people. It’s time to reclaim the family dinner.
I’m not saying this out of some kind of nostalgia for Ozzie and Harriet and the supposedly golden age of the 1950s. Families had problems back then, too. But I think a lot of families back then knew something many of us have forgotten: That it’s good to sit down together for a meal.
The dinner table is not only where we share good food and drink. It is also where we share our values, what happened to us during the day — the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s where we ask questions and learn from each other. In a relaxed atmosphere we can talk about our faith. The dinner table can be a great refuge from life’s hard knocks and stresses.
That’s not just my opinion. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University finds that teens who have dinner with their parents three or fewer times per week are four times more likely to smoke, twice as likely to drink, two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke marijuana, and four times as likely to say they will use drugs in the future as those who eat dinner five to seven times a week with their parents.
These findings mirror the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health, which is the largest longitudinal study ever done on adolescents. This study has some amazing statistics. Of twelve to fourteen year olds who don’t experience family dinners at least five days a week, 14 percent report drinking more than once a month. That’s kids twelve to fourteen. But for those who have family dinners, it’s cut to 7 percent!
Also, 27 percent of twelve to fourteen year olds who don’t have regular family dinners say they think about suicide, compared with only 8 percent of those who do eat with their families. Among seventeen to nineteen year olds, 68 percent without the influence of family dinners have had sex, versus 49 percent of those who have had family dinners.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Family dinners are vital — not just for food but for bonding and learning.
Now you’ll say: “Okay, having dinner with my kids is a good idea, but we’re just too busy.” Friend, believe me, I understand. In many homes, both parents work and have little time to cook food, let alone go to the supermarket and shop for it, and then clean up. And let’s face it: Our kids are just as busy as we are.
And look, I understand, instituting a welcoming and relaxing culture in the kitchen or dining room can seem daunting. Family dinners take planning, cooperation, and work. Your kids might protest at the new routine — at least at first. That’s okay. They will likely come to love it.
Get started, and see what works for you. But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Twice a week is better than none.And I bet you’ll find being together as satisfying as a steak dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy. Bon appetit!
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
To understand this post, you're going to need to start reading at the beginning:
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Fun... Feasting... Music... Dancing... German Culture... Wonderful People... The Very Word Bratwurst... The Festhalle... Family-Friendly Events... Seeing your Son Win the Alphorn Contest...
#47... The Cullman Oktoberfest