Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Church

Sitting on a comfy sofa in a USAirways lounge, I fought to keep from curling up in a fetal position to sleep for hours. A 2 a.m. shuttle pick up at the hotel for a 5 a.m. flight made me decide to never even go to bed. Rather, after a nice dinner and hours of chatting with long-lost friends, I headed out the door at midnight to go for a much needed run. I felt refreshed after showering, meeting the much-too-early limo at the appointed hour. However, I now pay for that decision.

Somewhere between drooping eyelids and and fuzzy thinking, I glanced up at the large television at the end of the room. Flashing across the screen and much to the amusement of the broadcaster, the following church advertisement was shown. "Come hear our pastor. He's not very good but he's short."  I laughed out loud.

I suppose many people choose a church based on the level of inconvenience to their personal lives. Some show up on holidays, dressed in their finest. Others arrive like clockwork every Sunday to sit in "their" pew and walk out feeling satisfied to have fulfilled a weekly obligation. And a whole multitude find a church that leaves them with a feel-good status after being entertained by a music production. It's easy to walk in and walk out when the lights-camera-action scenario outweighs the twenty-minutes of pulpit platitudes.


Why go to church in the first place? Is it for social standing or to be viewed as spiritual? Is it to check off a necessary activity and be relieved of any other obligation for the rest of the week?  I don't think so.

While there are many flavors of local church buildings and organizations, the style is much less important than the Christian service it produces. While a pastor has an obligation to optimize his communication skills, his deftness in words (or lack thereof) should not be the primary focus of choosing a church. Nor should the list of activities and groups be key in the decision. Rather, participation is pivotal.

Of course, we need to be discerning that a local church body is true to Scripture and theologically sound. But we dare not be mere spectators. We must be doers. We must choose to encourage and edify. We must be accountable to others and welcome necessary chastisement. We must live and love as a functional family, understanding our role in a hurting world.

No church is perfect for it is made up of imperfect people. But all of us imperfect people are instructed to live perfectly together as the Body of Christ. Let's be careful to guard against both spectator church attendance as well as critical attitudes toward the preacher's or service stylings. After all, we are the Church; not a building or program or personality. Get involved. Love one another. Serve a brother or sister. Be open to their needs. Fill those needs. Encourage. Edify. Challenge. That is the way the church of Christ operates.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Take heed, new parents

"See ya later, Ashley," I called out as Caleb led her out the door and to her car.  "You are always welcome here."  Earlier, we enjoyed a dinner together and then relaxed, chatting the evening away. The banter was light and the company good. I took another sip of coffee, relishing the cup's warmth in my cupped hands and the love in my heart.

After a few minutes Caleb returned. "Was it hard to say goodbye?" I queried.

"I'm OK," he softly uttered. Now there was one last thing to do. Rising from my lounging position on the couch, I fetched the clippers from the closet. It was time.

With Caleb seated on the bar stools in our great room, I plugged in the electric clippers. We both nervously laughed as the buzzing began. With no guard covering the reciprocating blades, his dark brown hair collected into mounds on the floor. I took pictures throughout the process for posterity's sake. I masked the meaning behind the action by laughing along with Caleb at his changing appearance. At last, I rubbed my hand over his smooth head, kissed his cheek and reminded him of my deep affection for him. "Caleb, I love you."

It's been a long time coming. Caleb's wait to join the Navy is over. By noon today, his room will be empty. Not empty of his possessions; books still overflow his nightstands. The room retains that “lived-in” look. The desk is an electronic depot and the floor a depository for dirty clothes. The covers on the bed are rumbled and three-quarters of the glasses from the kitchen cabinet have taken up residency on the bedside table. But the essence of that room will be gone. He is leaving to pursue his career.


It's different from when he left before. His departure is not the kind that happens when a college kid goes off to study. In that case, they predictably return on Christmas and summer breaks. Not so this time. This child of mine, a young man of twenty-two years and anxious to begin his new life is leaving for good. When he returns, it will be only as a short-term visitor. What remains on his shelves and hanging on the walls are merely remnants of a distant childhood that have come and gone all too quickly.

What happened to those years? How did we get to this point? I have always known that children are raised so they can leave. But when it happens, it catches you off guard. Though always a parent, you realize the years of parenting have come to a screeching halt. Your own flesh and blood has slammed his foot down on the brake, propelling you forward into the post-child rearing years. The whiplash from that process can be oh so painful.

New parents take heed. Embrace the dreary-eyed, sleep-deprived nights. Love the poo. Embrace the puke. Hold his tiny hand. Tickle his tootsies. Sing songs in the night. Look for monsters under the bed. Read him bed-time stories. Go for walks in the park. Dare to be silly. Zoom down the slide. Teach him to ride a bike. Help him with homework. No matter how busy, don’t forget his birthday and reduce him to tears. Take pictures to remember his artwork passionately scribbled onto the wall. Let him see you kiss Daddy. Teach him to manage his pennies. Teach him to work. Teach him to play. Talk about God. Live like you talk. Cherish the good, the bad, the joy, the sadness for surely it will be gone sooner than you realize.

Hold onto each moment for “this too shall pass.”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 13th entry from "Pace Yourself:366 Devotions From the Daily Grind"

Our internet was crawling slower than a newborn baby. Yesterday I had to reinstall Windows and download all the required service packs and updates. Hence, we exceeded the 24-hour bandwidth allowed with our satellite internet plan. After slogging through my email I gave up, went for a run, and then climbed aboard our beat-up lawnmower. With all the rain we’ve had, it was high time to give the grass a whack.



Our riding mover is an interesting piece of machinery. We bought it seventeen years ago and it has lived a hard life. Grass still falls in its path but the blades, even being replaced and sharpened frequently, are anything but pristine—too many rock encounters. We have to dump in half a quart of oil with each use, the grass shoot is catywampus and the deck is bent. And embarrassingly, we use a screw driver in the key slot to bring life to the old engine. The vinyl seat is split in several places, the edges rubbing uncomfortably on bare legs. But, I guess I shouldn’t complain. It beats cutting several acres with a push mower.

I don’t mind riding the mower. I love to look back at the lines in the grass, looking so tidy in contrast to the uneven grass and weeds yet uncut. Gary and the boys do most of the cutting but they don’t love it; they do it because they have to. I welcome the opportunity to bounce around the yard. My love for working outside come from my parents, I’m sure. Though time-consuming, it’s relaxing. And this year, there’s no shortage of mowing opportunities around here.

Come August, however, it will likely be a different story. Grass without rain is a terrible combination. Before long, the grass turns an ugly brown, no longer feeling soft and squishy on bare feet. With last summer’s drought, there were weeks that went by when no mowing was necessary. The ground was brown and dusty, the life sucked out of the blades of grass.

Though grass is fragile and short-lived, there is something that will stand forever; the Word of God. No drought or blazing sun can kill the Word. It lives on, strong in truth and perfect in directing our lives.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." (Isaiah 40:8)

Daily challenge:
Our lives should be green and lush when watered by the Word.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Books are in!

Now is the perfect time to order a copy of "Pace Yourself."  With Father's Day and Christmas in July, birthdays and a myriad of other opportunities coming up, the book will make a perfect gift. Buy an extra book or two!  With free shipping and handling for the month of May, you get to buy yourself a cup of Starbucks for the money you save; a perfect companion for starting in on the book.  Go to http://rebekahtrittipoe.com for more information and secure online ordering. (Credit cards and PayPal.  Your choice.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Finally. . .

 Pace Yourself: 366 Devotions from the Daily Grind  will be available for purchase this week. My stash of books are in transit and are expected to be delivered this week. For those of you who have already ordered, I am hoping to get your books in the mail as soon as hold them in my hand!

Thanks in advance for your support of this project.  Information about any of my books or information about having me speak to your group can be found at http://rebekahtrittipoe.com.