Monthly Archives: June 2017

Thoughtfulness

Thoughtfulness

Earlier this week, as I was traveling along Fall Creek Road, someone in a car ahead of me threw out some litter. I said to myself, “What a thoughtless jerk!”. Then, the more I thought about it, I decided it was not a thoughtless action; that person, obviously, intentionally threw out that trash and littered our Ozarks. That person’s brain sent a signal to the hand to roll down the window, pick up the fast food bag, and throw it out the window. But, it was thoughtless in that this action was not thought through. It was thoughtless in that the person’s thinking was not complete. The act of littering was not thoughtful.

How often do we not think all the way through the implications of our actions? How much “litter” do we leave behind in our lives because we are not as thoughtful as we could be, or should be? Our thoughtless actions, or less than thoughtful actions, can leave quite a mess to be cleaned up. And, just because I say thoughtless, I do not mean unintentional. Some of my most intentional actions have been the result of thoughtless choices. I intend to do A, which results in B. But, I never considered that A could also lead to C, D, and E. The unintended consequences of our actions, the results we never thought of, are what I mean as being thoughtless. Good chess players consider the consequences of their planned moves as much as five or six moves down the line. Chess masters know that if they do A then not only B will happen, but C, D, and E will likely follow. They know this because they have experienced many games of chess, and because they practice thoughtfulness every time they sit down to a chessboard. Those of us who do not think through the consequences of our actions become victims of life, thinking life conspires against us and causes more problems and more grief for us. In response to these problems, we again act impulsively, not fully considering the impacts of our actions, and start the cycle of victimhood over again.

Thinking through the likely results of our actions is the art of reasoning. Reasoning is another word for wisdom. The older I get, the more I appreciate and long for wisdom. When I was a kid, my dad used to ask me to decide what I planned to do before a given event might occur in my life (What are you going to do if someone offers you drugs?). He was asking me to use reasoning in my life. I would be much more likely to make good choices in life if I had thoughtfully and carefully considered the consequences before they occurred. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” We live as imperfect people in an imperfect world, corrupted by sin. Our ability to reason helps us navigate through the rocky passages of this fallen world. While we were yet in the Garden in an unfallen state, we had little need for wisdom. God protected us inside his perfect creation. The one thing we were not protected from was the serpent, and since that time when we were cast out into the now imperfect world, we have been in quest (some of us more than others) of the gift of wisdom.

In James 1:5, we read, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” We need reasoning – wisdom – to get through this messed up world. But, much as He protected us inside the Garden, He is still offering protection in our exile. He gives us His wisdom – through His written word and through life’s experiences that we share with one another and His Spirit. It has always been His plan that we are needful of Him, and needing His gift of wisdom is just more evidence of how He has planned to provide for us.

We may not live in the perfect, beautiful Garden any longer, but the Lord still provides for us. Let us do our part by not littering His creation with our thoughtlessness.

~ Hudd ~

Kevin Huddleston is an Elder at Fellowship at Cross Creek Church in Branson, MO

Entertainment in the Church, Escape or Worship

Entertainment, Escape, or Worship

At Fellowship, we are certainly blessed with a host of wonderful musicians who comprise our worship team. And, not only do these folks display enormous talent, but they also exude a fervent, deep, and passionate love of God. Week after week, we are beautifully led in worship by people who have devoted much of their lives and many hours of time to prepare themselves for whole-hearted adoration of our Savior. If you have not done so recently, take a moment to pass along a compliment to members of the worship team, thank them for their devoted service, and remember to pray for them and their ministry.

Leading in worship can be a bit hit and miss. When it is good, and thankfully, it most often is, our time of worship here at Fellowship is supremely uplifting. But, sometimes our worship time is not so hot. Now, do not get me wrong; I am not suggesting our worship team is lacking. No, I am talking about us. I am talking about, sometimes, myself. Our worship team prayerfully prepares and masterfully delivers their worship. But, as anyone who has ever tried to lead can tell you, sometimes those you are leading are disinclined to follow. Sometimes, we are content to just be entertained. Sometimes we sit back and enjoy “the performance”. Honestly, our musicians and vocalists are so good, it is easy to fall into that trap. Don’t do it. As much as you might enjoy the beautiful music, your joy can never be complete unless you firmly join in with your heart as well as your voice. Other times, the worship music becomes background while our minds wander to other, more secular concerns. Or, we spend the time escaping, sending our minds into a session of suspended animation. What a horrible waste of your time to miss a perfect opportunity to join with the worship team in joyful song of praise for our Lord!

Psalm 150, a hymn of the Hebrew people, tells us,

“Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Worship time is our time with God. The worship team, as wonderful as it is, is not the object of our adoration. Those folks are here to encourage and facilitate our worshipful experience with our Lord. Join with them. After all, if we do not, as Jesus said in Luke 19:40, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

Do not leave worship to the worship team, or the rocks.

~ Hudd ~

Kevin Huddleston is and Elder at Fellowship at Cross Creek in Branson, MO

For more see  fellowshipatcrosscreek.com

Fences

Pick up any magazine, from Time to Redbook, and you will be confronted with the comingling of politics, lifestyle, and morality. It is even more true when you click on your internet “news” source or social media. Or, remember these, a newspaper?! Stories that could have been about politics get wrapped around lifestyle and marinate in morality. Try an issue – gun control, abortion, climate change, or homosexuality – and there is a political component to the issue. But, in our increasingly personalized culture, and as organized religion is diminished in its influence, a person’s political position often becomes a molding framework for their lives; a self-identifier. There is, also, an element of morality, a “right” and a “wrong” position. Take the present conflagration regarding climate change. President Trump has just decided the United States is pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords. That is a political decision. But, immediately there were denunciations from those who style themselves as green that the decision to reverse the U.S. government’s position on Paris is driven by science deniers and, as such, is wrong and is to be opposed by all right thinking people. Unless one conforms to the orthodoxy that the earth’s days are severely numbered due to global warming caused by man, then that person is wrong, not entitled to share his thoughts, and is to be figuratively but socially stoned for his heresy. And, this is not always a Left to Right process. Consider, if you will, the Pro-Life movement, and then follow that same process. The process of politicization, life-stylization, and moralization works both ways.

Please do not label me to be a science denier (not completely, anyway). I do not deny that it appears the earth is warming, and we see extreme weather phenomenon on a more frequent basis. How many Floods-of-the-Century have we been subject to in just the past decade? And, I am always mildly surprised when the annual prediction that “this will be the most active hurricane season on record” due to climate change does not pan out. I get that the globe is warmer. But, climatic time is long and very slow, and should not be measured in tiny increments of decades. Is it wrong of me and am I to be labeled a science denier if I am skeptical that man is its one and only cause Is it morally repugnant that I believe our God has enduringly crafted Creation to be resilient to change? I think not.

What we need to learn, both on the right and the left, is some discretion. It used to be accepted that polite conversation did not involve politics or morality. Today, assaulted by cable TV talking head shouting matches, ugly Facebook postings, and 140 character rants, there seems to be no escaping the process outlined above. Today, to be informed is to be opinionated. And to be opinionated is to be deemed right, to the exclusion of any other possibilities. While we have a right to our opinion and a right to express it, we are not always right to do so. It seems to me that we need to re-establish some boundaries of civility. We need to build some fences around our personal feelings regarding social and political issues, with appropriate gates in the fence to allow suitable exchange of ideas. We need to determine which of our positions take on the role of conviction, and are to be defended when someone comes over the fence to attack them. We should always remember the words of Paul, written in Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” When possible, deal with others in a peaceful, respectful manner. As many have said, no souls are won to Christ by winning an argument.

It has also, often, been said that good fences make for good neighbors. In this electronic age, where everyone can be our virtual neighbor, good fences have never been more necessary.

~ Hudd ~