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Steve's Letter: September 2012

ImageI just stopped what I was doing to write you.
I'm working on lectures for old people. On Saturday (I'm writing this in early August), I'm leaving for The Cove (The Billy Graham Training Center) in the mountains of North Carolina where I'll be teaching at their Senior Celebration.

That means an old "people" will be talking to old people about the concerns of old people. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to say (I'm still working on it), but I probably won't talk about sex, how to change the world, or what God says about raising children or divorce. I'm not that smart, but I do know (and teach students) to always know one's audience.

Fred Smith used to tell the story about an old man and old woman (she was 93 and he was 97) who went to a divorce lawyer. The lawyer was surprised and said, "After 5 children, 17 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren, why in the world would you want a divorce?"

"Because," they said in unison, "enough is enough!"

But I digress.

I do know the main text for the series and, as I grow old, it has become my daily prayer: "O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come" (Psalm 71:17-18).

A number of years ago, I read a book by Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son. It was one of those books God puts into our lives at just the right time. It was so important for me for a number of reasons.



Steve's Letter: August 2012

ImageIf you've heard me teach or preach much, you've probably heard me say that you should so live your life that uptight Christians doubt your salvation. I didn't make that up. Luther said something similar in his On the Freedom of the Christian:

"There are some who have no understanding to hear the truth of freedom and insist upon their goodness as means for salvation. These people you must resist, do the very opposite, and offend them boldly lest by their impious views they drag many with them into error. For the sake of liberty of the faith do other things which they regarded as the greatest of sins...use your freedom constantly and consistently in the sight of and despite the tyrants and stubborn so that they may learn that they are impious, that their law and works are of no avail for righteousness, and that they had no right to set them up."

Frankly, I'm a lot nicer than Luther...



Steve's Letter: July 2012

ImageI'm starting a new series soon on the daily Key Life broadcast. It will be real "upper"—death, war and taxes. Well, not really, but it is about the dark side of living in a fallen world and what the Bible says about that struggle.

Misery loves company...and you're it!

Our staff gets together each Monday morning to tell jokes, laugh, hang out, check on one another's lives...and to pray for the needs of people who have requested prayer. A weekly prayer list is then compiled and given to our staff so they can privately pray for those needs and others.

To be honest, I can only pray through that prayer list once a week and I put it off for as long as I can. Sometimes I'm so overwhelmed by all the pain of the many people who write and ask for prayer. I sometimes start my prayers for those folks...

Lord, do I have to do this?


But it is so dark. Sometimes I don't think I can stand it.

I know. Me too!

There are times when I just want to cry.

Me too, child. I've been there. I know.

That, of course, will be at the very core of what I plan to teach on the broadcast. I don't know all I will say and teach (haven't said or taught it yet), but I do know that anything about God, pain and suffering that doesn't both start and end with a God who identified with our pain and suffering is superficial drivel...



Steve's Letter: June 2012

ImageI'm writing this in April just after Chuck Colson's death. And his passing adds a great attraction to heaven.

This morning, I was on a conference prayer call with leaders of the New Canaan Society, a national men's movement God is using in astounding ways across the country. One of those on the call was Mike Timmis who succeeded Chuck as Chairman of Prison Fellowship. So, it was only natural that we talked about Chuck, shared memories, told stories, and prayed for Patty and Chuck's family.

Most of the conversation was rather spiritual (as it ought to have been). We talked about the amazing impact of Chuck's faithfulness, the hundreds of prison works that he and the folks at Prison Fellowship had started all over the world, his concern for a Christian worldview, and his often brilliant commentaries on BreakPoint.

After awhile, I decided that it was getting rather heavy, and God and Chuck would want me to lighten it up a bit...



Steve's Letter: May 2012

ImageI've been thinking about death.

Of course you have. You're old.

Well, yes, but not that kind of death. I've been thinking about crucifixion.

Has it come to that? I know your new book is controversial and some people are angry; but, surely, they won't go that far.

No, no, no. I've been thinking about what Paul said in Galatians 2:20. He was crucified with Christ but it was okay because, while he no longer lived, something far better happened. Paul said that Christ lived his life through him.

As soon as I finish writing you, I'm driving over to speak for a missions conference at Spruce Creek Presbyterian Church in Port Orange, Florida. I already prepared, but then I started thinking about death and have decided to go in a different direction.

It started with my devotional reading of John 12:23-26 where Jesus said: "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him."

That sounds like a major downer. And it sounds like a marvelous text for a preacher wanting to motivate people in the church to be more missional—to serve, to give, to sacrifice, and to change the world. I get that, but it doesn't work and, in fact, isn't what Jesus said at all...


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