Archive for December, 2012

Dec
28

Love Provides Justice to the World

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songs.of.the.season

His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
(Luke 1:51-55, NLT)

In yesterday’s post I observed that God’s love brings joy to our lives because its rooted in his character. God does loving things because his character and nature is love. The same is true of his mercy and holiness. His love is certainly our greatest source of joy.

But his love not only produces joy in our lives. It also provides justice for the world. Notice the reversal in Mary’s song of love. Those who are proud, mighty and wealthy do not have the last word. When Jesus came he turned the social order on its head. No longer would a person be defined by their culture, their environment, their economics, education or ethnicity. The proud and powerful would be humbled and the humble and weak would be exalted. Jesus did not just come to provide joy for our lives. He also came to provide justice for an unjust world.

Categories : Advent, Christmas
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Dec
27

Love Produces Joy

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songs.of.the.season

Mary responded,
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.”
(Luke 1:46-50, NLT)

The first element of Mary’s love song is the abundant joy she feels in her heart. This fourteen year old virgin was certainly overwhelmed with the news of her pregnancy, but even more by the idea that God had chose her to be theotokos, “the God-bearer.” Every joy that is shared is a joy that is doubled in intensity, so the joy she felt because of her pregnancy was multiplied as she shared it with Elizabeth.

One can’t help but notice that her joy was focused on the character of God. In the above text she is overcome by God’s salvation, holiness, power and mercy. God’s character is the foundation for all of his thoughts and actions. Mary recognized that all that God was doing was based on who He was, just as all of God’s activity today is based on who He is.

We all have our moments of fear and doubt when we wonder if God is going to act or how He will act should he choose to do so. We cannot perfectly anticipate what God will do in any given situation, but one thing we do know: He will always act according to his character. Mary may not have had anyway of anticipating that salvation and mercy would come through God incarnate as an infant. But she could count on the fact that God would do something because that’s who He is. The more we learn of the character and nature of God, the more we will be comforted when fears rise and doubts swell.

Categories : Advent, Christmas
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Dec
23

The Song of Love

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songs.of.the.season

Does anyone do a love song better than country music? Here are some famous and infamous song titles from the world of country western music:

* Don’t Cry on My Shoulders Cuz You’re Rustin’ My Spurs
* Her Teeth was Stained but her Heart was Pure
* How can I Miss You if You Won’t Go Away
* I Changed Her Oil and She Changed My Life
* I Been Missin’ You but My Aim is Gettin’ Better
* If Love Were Oil I’d Be About a Quart Low
* I’m So Miserable Without You It’s Almost Like Havin’ you Here
* Mama Get a Hammer There’s a Fly on Papa’s Head
* My John Deere was Breaking Your Field While Your Dear John Was Breakin’ My Heart
* She Made Toothpicks Out of the Kindlin’ of My Heart
* Tennis Must Be Your Racket Cause Love Means Nothing to You
* You’re the Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly

The answer is yes! Check out the lyrical content of The Magnificat, Mary’s song of love.

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
(Luke 1:46-55, NLT)

This week I’m going to post some observations about this wonderful text. Check back in when you get the chance.

Categories : Advent, Christmas
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Dec
18

The Advantage

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I like Patrick Lencioni, and have read the majority of the books he’s published. Two of them have been extremely helpful: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars. His latest work is titled, The Advantage—How to Develop Organizational Health. The short of it is that the most important metric for measuring ongoing organizational success is its health. While organizational health is not as snazzy as sales figures and other more discernable data, health is extremely important for an organization if it is going to remain viable and withstand the rapid shifts in our culture and economy. And, as the title suggests, healthy organizations maintain a strong advantage over those that are not healthy.

Lencioni offers four practical suggestions on how to develop organizational health that is beneficial to for profits and not for profits like churches.

The first discipline is to build a cohesive leadership team. Healthy teams are characterized as those where trust is forged through vulnerability and conflict is tolerated around important issues. Team members hold one another accountable for commitments as well as behaviors. Above all, each team member must place the organization above their own private interests.

The second discipline of the healthy organization is to create clarity so that everyone in unified around purposes, values, strategies, and goals. Clarity allows the leadership team to hold in common the significant matters of the organization and to align themselves accordingly. Communication is free because each member of the team is on the same page.

Once clarity is created the team works to over-communicate clarity. Clarity is not achieved until information is thoroughly passed along from the leadership team to the rest of the organization. Each member of the team must leave leadership team meetings with the intent to accurately articulate the six aspects of clarity to each employee.

Finally, clarity is reinforced by communicating the values, goals, purposes, and strategies of the organization to new employees. Those who don’t fit the mold are either coached up or moved out. Compensation and rewards are built around the values and goals of the organization.

I mentioned at the front of this post that I like Lencioni. His common sense approach and simple style make his coaching accessible to those of us who have yet to earn that M.B.A. Church leaders can benefit from The Advantage. His emphasis on communication within the framework of an organization is worth the price of the book.

Categories : Books, Leadership
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Dec
17

The Song of Joy

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songs.of.the.season

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
(Luke 2:8-20, NLT)

The third song of Advent is the Song of Joy. What can we learn about joy from this interaction between the shepherds and the angelic choir? First, joy is available to everyone. It doesn’t surprise us that angels arrive singing songs of joy. What is surprising is that the shepherds would also experience joy. They were ceremonially unclean, which didn’t allow them to enter the Temple for worship. They were stereotyped as unreliable and untruthful, which meant that they were forbidden from giving testimony in a court of law. Shepherds were among the most marginalized people in the community. They were so marginalized that when the angels appeared their response was one of terror. Why would God come to them? Why would they be privy to such a grand announcement? Their only concept of God was of a God who judged sinners, yet the angels brought them good news.

The second thing we learn is that joy is an “inside” job that finds its source in Christ. The person of Christ brings joy. Through this encounter the shepherds realized that they were included, valued and loved by God. Is there anything that appears more innocent than a baby? Look at the contrast: the innocent baby Jesus and the guilty shepherds. Jesus was enough to satisfy their need for joy. Is he enough for you?

Next, joy is the by-product of grace and peace. God’s grace brings God’s peace which results in joy. The apostle Peter described this joy as “unspeakable and full of glory.”

Finally, we see that joy is not limited to experiences or events. Joy is available regardless of your personal circumstances. The shepherds found joy at the manger, but they didn’t leave their joy in the manger. Nothing externally changed for the shepherds: they returned to the same job in the same fields taking care of the same sheep. All on the same day. But they returned with joy.

If joy is available to everyone and its not dependent on our circumstances, they why is there so little joy in our day to day lives? Here are two possible suggestions:

1. The absence of joy in my life could be due to the lack of grace and peace. You can never know grace and peace until you personally experience Christ.

2. The lack of joy in my life is could be due to my focus on finding joy from external sources. At some point we need to become honest with ourselves. The next job, the next house, the next toy, the next car, the next outfit, the next relationship, the next “you fill in the blank” will not produce joy in your life. The stuff of today is nothing more than the stuff of garage sales tomorrow.

May this Christmas season fill your heart with songs of joy as you consider the grace and peace he has brought to your life.

Categories : Advent, Christmas
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Dec
14

Good News and Bad News

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Today I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that we have fixed our feedburner issues on the blog. The bad news is that we were unable to successfully migrate the email addresses of those of you who have subscribed to the feeds so that you could receive postings in your email inbox. Because we were unable to migrate the email addresses, you will need to resubscribe to resume receiving those blog posts via email. I apologize for this inconvenience! Thanks for following timdeatrick.com!

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Dec
13

Feedburner

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Thanks to those of you who follow my blog through email subscription. At this time we are having some issues with feedburner that I hope to have resolved in the next day or so. The worst case scenario would be that you may be asked to resubscribe to my blog posts to have them delivered to your email account. Stay tuned and thank you for your patience!

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Dec
12

The Song of Peace

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At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
I have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
(Luke 2:25-32, NLT)

The setting of the story is the Temple, the locus of God’s presence; the intersect between human and the divine. There are parallel plots at work, as the story opens with Joseph and Mary bringing the baby Jesus to the Temple on the 8th day of his young life. According to Jewish law, the first born male child was to be presented in dedication. The parents would offer a sacrifice and the baby would receive circumcision. It was a religious act of devotion, and the devout observed these rites of passage with great care and deliberation. It so happens that there is an old man in the Temple named Simeon. We don’t really know anything about him, except that he is described as a righteous and devout man. There is no mention of his life, his family, or his vocation. We get the sense that he is a frequent worshipper at the Temple. On more than one occasion the text tells us that he was directed by the Spirit of God. As the story goes, Simeon is “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” He’s living atop a promise. Here in the Temple courts, we find the divine intersect: The hopeful meets the fulfillment of the promise. Simeon takes the baby from the surprised parents, holds him, and begins to sing.

As people of faith we live atop the promises of God. They sustain us and move us along in a Godward direction. God makes promises that he always keeps. Faith is more than believing the promises of God, it is embracing the maker of those promises. Simeon’s faith enabled him to see God even in the smallest, least expected way. I’m sure you noticed Simeon’s spiritual sensitivity. On this very ordinary day, most of the people stood and watched just another young couple dedicate just another baby boy. Most of those who were there didn’t notice anything extraordinary whatsoever. But Simeon saw the extraordinary. He saw God at work in a baby. He saw God.

Do you see God at work? Do you expect to see God at work? Do you believe that God is at work even though you may not perceive it as such? We can learn something from Simeon. The lesson we learn is that God is at work in the daily, ordinary, and the routine.

What happens when you see God at work? You receive his peace. Any time you encounter God we receive peace. One of the reasons we lack peace is that we seek peace for the sake of peace. Don’t look for peace, look for God. He brings his peace with him.

When you see God at work you not only receive his peace, you become free. The word “dismiss” was used to describe the release of a slave. It means to discharge one from service and was used as a colloquialism for death. When you’re free you’re not only free to live, you’re free to die.

Categories : Advent, Christmas
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Henry Richard White, Jr., age 80, of St. Clair, Missouri, formerly of St. Louis, Missouri, passed away on Thursday, December 6, following a long and courageous battle with cancer. Funeral services will be held at Grace Baptist Church in Union, Missouri, on Monday, December 10, at 11:00 am, with visitation preceding at 10:00 am. Interment will be at Mt. Hope Cemetery in St. Louis.

Rich was born on June 4, 1932, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Henry and Mary White. As a graduate of Roosevelt High School, Rich went on to play football at the University of Arizona and then Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where he graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree. Rich began his vocational career as the first Men’s Basketball Coach at Missouri Baptist College. During this time he earned a Master’s Degree in Physical Education from Truman State University. Following a ten year coaching career, Rich was called to the gospel ministry, serving congregations in Texas, Missouri, Ohio, and Iowa. He finished his career as an Admissions Recruiter for Hannibal LaGrange University.

Rich married Eva Jeane Brookhart on November 5, 1960. To their union three children were born: Lori Russell, Lisa (Tim) Deatrick, and Danny (Tamah) White. He was the proud grandfather of five: Ryan, Lauren, and Shannon Deatrick, and Abigail and Amelia White.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one sister Mary White Fenton, and his daughter Lori. He is survived by his beloved wife of 52 years, two children, five grandchildren, one brother, Steven (Sandy) White of St. Louis, Missouri, numerous nieces and nephews, a host of friends and countless numbers of people he personally led to faith in Christ.

Rich played rugby for several St. Louis clubs and enjoyed weightlifting and handball. He loved a good rack of ribs, watching the St. Louis Cardinals, and always kept a toothpick within reach. Most of all, he will be remembered for his deep faith, love for the Lord Jesus and beginning each day with Bible reading and prayer.

Memorials may be made to Hannibal LaGrange University or the charity of your choice.

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“…just as he promised through the holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant–the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham” (Luke 1:70-73, NLT).

One of the reasons Zechariah could sing a song of hope was his belief that God always keeps His promises. Check out the phrases from the text:
• “Just as he promised…”
• “…Remembering his sacred covenant…”
• “…(his) oath to our ancestor Abraham…”

Zechariah reached all the way back to Abraham to recall the promises that God had made and fulfilled. In his thinking, hope is built upon God’s continual faithfulness. Recognizing that God has been faithful in the past provides confident hope in the present that God will continue to be faithful and keep his promises in the present.

Sometimes the best remedy for despair in desperate times is a history lesson. For the believer, that history is not limited to God’s faithfulness during our lifetime. It includes the entirety of human history. After all, God’s faithfulness in human history is your history too.

Categories : Advent, Christmas
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