Listen to the Sermon (29:00)
All the way back in Genesis 12 with God’s call to Abram, we see God extending hospitality to His people. One of the identifying markers of His people – which still identifies us to this day – is that we are strangers in desperate need of hospitality. And God, in His great mercy and grace, is constantly extending hospitality to us – the ultimate act of which was the sending of His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty of death for our sins. We were alienated from Him – strangers – when He Sent His Son, and based of this ultimate and scandalous act of hospitality, we are to extend scandalous hospitality to one another and to the strangers among us.
The Greek word translated “hospitality” in the New Testament captures the essence of this scandalous hospitality that we are to extend. The word is “philoxenia,” and it’s a word that combines the words “phileo” and “xenos.” Phileo is the general word used for love or affection of people who are connected by kinship or faith – brotherly love. Xenos is the word used for stranger. From this word, we see that the concept of biblical hospitality calls for us to extend love and affection and to offer care and provision to not only those with whom we are kindred spirits – but with strangers as well.
The call to biblical hospitality is on all of us as followers of Christ. It flies in the face of our self-centered, narcissistic culture. It’s deeply convicting, challenging, and life-altering. Perhaps you’d like to read more about this call and wrestle more with its implications. If so, here’s a list of some of the books that I’m using to aid my study.
And You Welcomed Me: A Sourcebook on Hospitality in Early Christianity
By Amy G. Oden (Editor) Read about it at Amazon.com
The Hospitality Commands: Building Loving Christian Community: Building Bridges to Friends and Neighbors
By Alexander Strauch Read about it at Amazon.com
Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition
By Christine D. Pohl Read about it on Amazon.com
Welcoming the Stranger: A Public Theology of Worship and Evangelism
By Patrick R. Keifert Read about it on Amazon.com
I’ve always liked Tony Campolo. He came and spoke at my university 25 years ago, and afterward, he spoke with about 6 of us guys back in our dorm. His articulation of the gospel of Jesus (through his words and lifestyle) was compelling and convicting – and still is. He’s 78 years old now, but his message is still as powerful as ever. Recently, Stephen Bracht, a guy from my church, spent a few weeks in Philadelphia working on his master’s degree. He told me that while he was there, he and his classmates had lunch with Campolo. Someone filmed it, and I got to watch it. It was vintage Campolo. Here’s a small clip from that luncheon – and by the way, my friend Stephen is the guy in the red!
Our 18-year old daughter, Alexis, loves country music – much to my disappointment. I raised my kids on heavy metal, so for them to turn from it and fall into a nasty love affair with country music is a bit hard for this dad to handle. But, what Alexis did with country music yesterday was pretty awesome.
Country music star, Luke Bryan, is coming to town tonight. Alexis has wanted to go since the time she heard about it, but the tickets are ridiculously priced. So, Alexis has been trying to figure out a way to get a ticket for a more affordable price, but she has not had any luck. So, yesterday, she and a friend wrote a song about wanting free tickets to the show and drove down to the local country radio station to see if they could sing for free tickets. Understand that the station did not ask listeners to do this. This was something that Alexis and her friend came up with on their own.
They had a hard time getting past station security, but the security guard agreed to let them go to the station’s front office and talk to the receptionist. They sang for the receptionist who was so impressed that she had the on-air DJ come out of the studio to hear them. He was so impressed that he invited them into the studio to sing their song on the air! And a listener was so impressed that she offered the girls 2 VIP passes to tonight’s show!
Talk about drive and initiative!! Yes, it’s country music, but this made me proud. Here’s the audio of their 2 minutes of fame: Alexis and Christi Singin for Luke
- Random Thoughts
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Weird, but ever since Sunday (the day I turned a year older), I’ve been sore. I had to get my knee brace back out, and I’ve been on a steady diet of Advil. Biked 16 miles on Saturday, ate a lot of cake on Sunday, went to the gym and played softball (where I took a hard spill) on Monday, and went to boot camp on Tuesday. My body is not happy with me…and frankly, I’m not happy with it.
At my parents’ house recently, I came across a family newsletter I wrote back in 1985. My older brother and his wife had moved to Maine with the Air Force, so instead of writing them a letter, I spent hours developing a newsletter on our Commodore 64 computer. The newsletter contained a family update, an album review, and a recipe from my mom. Facebook is so much easier and efficient!
I just discovered that I get the Fox Sports Ohio TV channel on my DirectTV package. Reds games every night – just like when I was growing up! The difference now is that it’s in High Definition, and I don’t have to wait until the Lawrence Welk Show is over to tune in.
The media frenzy surrounding the birth of Will and Kate’s “royal” baby seems to me like a royal waste of time and energy. At the rate Queen Elizabeth is going, she’ll be on the throne for another few decades. Then it’s poor Charles’ turn…then it’s daddy Will’s turn. It may be 60-70 years before this baby even sits on the throne. And…does anyone outside of England even care? I know I don’t.
American Ninja Warrior is cool.
Must have been a slow news day yesterday as this was a featured news headline on CNN.com: Belly-flops Can Cause Injuries.
Men have always known this, and this is why we avoid them at all costs, but evidently there’s more at risk than just what we men inevitably experience when a dive goes horribly wrong.
The doctor interviewed in the article never mentioned the trauma we men experience but did say that the most common injuries seen with belly-flops are contusions or bruising of the skin. He said that rarely do these bruises go deeper and affect your internal organs, but they can. Hard belly flops “can affect organs such as the liver, kidney, pancreas and the bowels. Not only is the abdomen taking the brunt of the landing into the water at a high velocity, there is also sudden deceleration, both of which can cause trauma to the organs.”
He also said that children are more vulnerable than adults because they have less abdominal fat and a relatively larger abdominal cavity. So, the fatter the better. Better splashes and better protection. The doctor even warned that if the belly flop pain is persistent, or if you see blood in your urine or stool, you should see a doctor right away. Whoa! Wonder if any of these smackers experienced any of these symptoms…
I turn 43 soon. The age doesn’t bother me, but the number does. It’s just kind of an odd number. Well…technically it IS an odd number, but you know what I mean. The only cool 43 I can think of is the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu’s jersey number. What else is 43 and cool?
I just can’t seem to keep my glasses clean…and it’s driving me crazy.
A few years ago, I served for three months on a grand jury, and the things I had to see and hear are things that I have a hard time forgetting. We heard murder cases, child abuse cases, rape cases – you name it, we heard it…and we saw pictures. The jurors who served on the George Zimmerman trial will never be the same, and I feel sad for them.
New Mexico is finally seeing rain. So many – including myself – have been praying for rain. I am thanking the Lord for His provision…and asking for more.
I can tell funny stories, and I can say funny things that make people laugh, but I can not tell a joke to save my life. I can’t remember them, and if I do, my delivery is never right. Why is that?
Life Below Zero. I came across this show on accident last week, and I can’t get enough of it. Fascinating…and cold.
- Stupid Church Signs
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Tonight is Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. When I was a boy, this game was a magical exhibition of baseballs greatest players that I looked forward to every summer – almost like I did Christmas. All summer long, our radio was tuned to the Cincinnati Reds radio station, and rarely did we miss a broadcast. These broadcasts served as the build-up for me of the one game where I could actually watch all of the stars that I had only heard spoken of on the radio.
By the time this game came around each summer, I was in full baseball card collecting mode (Topps, of course), and leading up to the game, I would gather all of the cards of the All-Stars and set them aside. I would then head down to the local baseball card shop and buy individual cards of the players I didn’t have through buying packs of cards. Come game time, my family would gather around the television, and I would sit on the floor making enough room for an imaginary baseball diamond. I then put the cards of the players in their proper positions on the field and played out the televised game on my living room floor.
The game seemed so much purer back then. Most players stayed with the same team their whole careers, so loyalties were built by players and by fans. Because ESPN didn’t exist yet, there wasn’t an over-saturation of exposure. This is why the All-Star game was so magical. It was often the only chance fans had to actually watch their favorite players and the stars from other teams play.
Tonight, players will play who have switched teams (some multiple times), so there’s not nearly as much player/fan loyalty. Players will play who fans see every night on SportCenter, so the mystery is gone. And, after tonight’s game, Major League baseball will be passing out suspensions to players who have been discovered using performance enhancing drugs – cheating.
Worse than all of this (in my opinion)…sometime in the late 80′s to early 90′s baseball card collecting went from being a hobby to a business. More and more companies entered the baseball card market, and instead of one card per player, suddenly each player had multiple cards from multiple companies each year. Some companies even stopped putting a stick of gum in their packs – a practice that signaled the demise of American culture. Because of all of this, card prices went up. A pack of cards that once had 20 cards in it and sold for 25 cents became a pack of 10 for $2. Kids could no longer afford to collect cards, and baseball card collecting became an adult business.
So, tonight’s game – a game that used to capture and enthrall me – now means nothing to me. Major League baseball, for that matter, is something I could take or leave now. It used to be magical, but the magic is all but gone.
Spent a week in Wisconsin recently. It was cool, green, plush, and beautiful. Fool’s gold, however. I’ve lived there in the winter – which lasts from October thru May. If you’re thinking about moving to the Midwest, please visit in the winter before making your final decision.
I love what I do. Of course, I say this after two Sundays off and a week in-between with lots of rest and no emails. And yes, sometimes the task is overwhelming and I often feel spent…but I do love being a pastor – and more specifically, the pastor at Foothills Fellowship.
My father-in-law retired last Sunday after 47 years of full-time ministry. That’s longer than I’ve been alive. What an accomplishment! By the way, he retired on June 30th and on the following Sunday, he was filling in at a church for a pastor on vacation. I guess his joke is coming true. He always used to say, “Pastors never retire, they just reload!” (And he’d say that while pretending to violently cock a gun.)
The wreck of Asiana flight 214 in San Francisco happened as my family and I were flying home from Wisconsin. I first heard about it when we were in Atlanta for a layover. The TV screens all throughout the airport were showing it. That was REALLY troubling. Maybe it’s just me, but you would think that showing that in an airport while people are awaiting their flights is not the smartest thing to do.
Maybe I’m getting older and less interested, but it seems as though there are very few good movies out right now. Summer is supposed to be a time for lots of good movies, but there is not one movie I currently want to see. I saw “The Lone Ranger” last week only because it was the only movie the six of us who went hadn’t seen. I wasn’t interested in seeing it, but I thought maybe because it was filmed here in NM that I might enjoy it. It was not very good – a $250 million flop in my opinion. Almost hate to admit it, but the best movie I’ve seen so far this year is Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise. It wasn’t great, but I think it’s the best I’ve seen so far.