Monday, January 25, 2016
Monday, January 18, 2016
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13, ESV)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, ESV).
- Lonely people, suffering friends, misunderstood neighbors invite you to show love.
- A new morning, a favorite song, a busy bird’s feeder, a friend’s laugh, and Taco Tuesday each open a window for joy.
- Slow traffic, latent WiFi service, prolonged adoption plans, and dawdling children give an opportunity for patience.
- Negligent co-workers or employees provide a chance to show gentleness.
- Extra leisure time, stocked refrigerators, Amazon.com, and sexy magazine covers are a test of self-control.
Monday, January 11, 2016
This was lobbed at me yesterday morning before prayer. "I never said that," I defended.
"Yes," another person chimed in. "You did. You once said in a sermon, 'I hate Facebook.'"
Perhaps I did.
And so what? That may have been a comment, but what was the context? I learned this little zinger in Seminary (see misquotation 2 below): The context determines meaning. Which means, in context of course, that what you say always fits into a larger conversation. People who misquote me never remember the context (see misquotation 1 below)
Here are a few of the misquotations:
- I hate Facebook (and other forms of social media).
- I hate Grace College.
- I hate big churches.
- I hate vampires.
1. "I Hate Facebook"
The first misquote never has a context. It comes stripped naked from a sermon like a newborn child. Whenever I hear people citing me, it goes something like this: 'The apostle Paul... blah blah blah. Missionary journey... blah, blah, blah. I hate Facebook."
Or, "Jesus said... blah, blah, blah. Sermon on the mount... blah, blah, blah. I hate Facebook."
Seriously, people? Did I say that?
Moreover, I reserve the word "hate" for really egregious things. You may properly quote me saying, "I hate Michigan." (Context: I do not hate the state or the people, just the football team; and not even the players, coaches, or fans, just the giant, godless, gold-and-blue conglomeration. "I hate Michigan" is short for "I hate the Michigan Wolverines football team." And when I use hate, what I really mean is that I want them to lose every game except a bowl game against the SEC, because, as you can guess it, "I hate the SEC.") Two other things I have spoken hate over are uncooked onions and sin.
Facebook, like any tool, is amoral, not worthy of hate, simply preference. I understand its value to connect, lament, fuel political agendas, and farm fake animals. I like that our friends made a Facebook adoption page for our family. I like that our church promotes and celebrates one another on Facebook. But Facebook is not my preferred tool. I prefer to self-promote, sound super spiritual, and employ whit using Twitter (Follow me today @timsprankle) I prefer to look like a good dad and pastor on Instagram. I prefer to expand my thoughts to an invisible audience of twenty on this blog.
What I hate is how tools that are intended to unite us actually divide us. They fuel envy and distraction. They intrude into our personal space, all the while those who sit within our immediate context seem miles away. And remember, context is supposed to determine meaning -- my physical presence should define me more than my digital fingerprint. Blah, blah, blah.
2. "I hate Grace College"
This is a big "Thank You" to Grace College and Theological Seminary. In spite of what others feel, or what I may have been heard to say in a college chapel many new moons ago, I don't hate you. I never said that. You provided the context for my wife and me to meet, for our romance to flourish. You gave me room for my theological passions to grow, for my career in running to start its course.
If I'm bitter, its only because the campus got so much better since I left, adding a Disc Golf course, rec. center, athletic arena, several new dorms, and track (upcoming). I may not always give when the Phone-a-thon calls, attend Homecoming, or show up to basketball games, but I assure you, I would never root for Bethel. "I hate Bethel." (See note on Michigan above).
"I Hate Big Churches"
Big churches can do things little churches can't: They can host big groups of people, hire big staff, give big gifts (e.g., minivans to single moms), serve big groups, steward big budgets and fill big buildings. Little churches can do all that on a little scale, which is why they're called little. Not only I am grateful for the generosity and gospel impact of my fellow big churches, I am envious of their reach. At the same time, I am not shy about my preference to serve in a little church because I believe the ceiling for personal intimacy and pastoral care is bigger in a smaller church. This preference may not be accurate, but it is not hateful.
"I hate Vampires"
This quote has come back to bite me several times. And it is true. I also hate Zombies.
Hopefully, I've saved face and perhaps Facebook in the process. I hate being misunderstood, but it's inevitable in this world. Preachers and teachers will incur a stricter judgment because their words are meant for public good, not personal preferences (James 3:1). I'll leave my petty hates to game days.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Fuller Discloser: I stopped right here before finishing. Insert Sad Face emoji )
Monday, January 4, 2016
We can all use a fresh start. We would all benefit from clearer future plans and more finished loops. The book of James offers wise advice on future planning, so we are neither gullible nor godless.
Unlike the perspective of business coaches and self-help gurus (e.g., David Allen, James Clear), the brother of Jesus provides a view of wealth and life that prevents us from thinking too highly of ourselves. "The Lord's will, not mine" is the Christ-follower's meme.
Read the biblical text (below) and listen to the sermon (above) today. Check into the SprainedAnkle Blog Wednesday (1.6.16) for more teaching on fresh starts, future plans, and finished loops.
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (ESV)