Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Remembering Lottie

Following is my annual reminder of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for missions:

Each December, Southern Baptist churches collect offerings for missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. Here are some facts about Lottie Moon summarized from an ERLC newsletter, “The Weekly” published December 11, 2015:

Charlotte "Lottie" Moon, born in 1840, earned a Master of Arts and on July 7, 1873 was appointed as a missionary to China by the Foreign Mission Board. In 1885 she became the first American woman to adopt Chinese dress and language. Moon reported, “We need to make friends before we can make converts.”

In 1888 the Woman’s Missionary Union was founded and Moon suggested collecting a Christmas offering for mission work in China.  Named for Lottie Moon in 1918, the offerings have collected almost $4 billion since it began.  

During famine, Moon shared her meager food and finances adversely affecting her health. By 1912 she weighed only 50 pounds. Friends sent her to the U.S. but she died en route at the age of 72.  Her life is told in the movie, “The Lottie Moon Story,” and she is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church. In China, a monument to her at Dengzhou Baptist Church has a brief description with the words, “How she loved us.”

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Baseball, Trump & Understanding the Rules

Last night I dreamed I was part of a special team assigned to teach President Trump how to play baseball, specifically first base. Three things made the task so frustratingly daunting. First, he seemed completely uninterested in the game of baseball. Second, he appeared to be absolutely enjoying the experience but totally unconcerned with learning anything we offered to teach him about the game or about the position. When we tried to show him something, he would just laugh, ham it up for the camera, and then toss the football to the cheering crowd or toss the football to me. 

Yes, the football. 

That was the most confusing, and the third and far and away the most frustrating aspect of the whole affair. We were trying to teach him all about baseball and how to play first base, but the only ball we had was a football. I was so glad to wake up.

All day I’ve thought about that crazy dream. I thought about writing an essay on the current state of politics in D. C. and the need for all sides to decide the game so they can use the same rulebook, or perhaps to write on the fact that the inside-the-beltway crowd hasn’t yet figured out that the current White House occupant isn’t playing by the same set of rules the rest of them have been using during their collective tenure. And I thought of writing an essay about our need to focus on what unites us but how we keep getting thrown off topic and how we keep talking past each other, as if we are having two different conversations, holding two different sets of standards for each other, using two different sets of rules—as if we are in the same game, but some us are playing baseball and some of us are playing football. 

But aside from prophetic and visionary dreams, most just reveal more about the dreamer, and so it’s probably a mistake to have shared this one...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ray Lokey: Defying Labels

In November, I visited my college buddy, Ray Lokey. Ray was the owner and publisher of the Capitol-Democrat Newspaper in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. When we visited, he had only days to live and asked me to preach his funeral. Thirty-seven years of friendship wasn’t long enough with a buddy like Ray. In addition to being a Christ follower, he defied labels that tend to be used (too often to exclude) these days. Below is just one paragraph from the eulogy I delivered a couple weeks after my last visit with Ray:

Ray was a wonderful friend who defied modern labels. Trying to describe someone like Ray to a person in our society today is a little difficult. How do you describe a political progressive who is also a conservative Christian? A hard-nosed journalist who is among the most sensitive and caring people I’ve ever known? He was an environmentalist who was also a businessman and unashamed supporter of capitalism. He was a bit of a hippie and yet a Staff Sergeant in the U. S. Army who was a proud veteran and urged others to serve in the military. He was a bell-bottomed teenager with long hair who was also a proud Eagle Scout. Ray was a prominent man in the community, and yet he was one of the most humble servants I have ever known—always ready and willing to serve behind the scenes; he never really sought the limelight. He represented the best part of a full spectrum of views, and I loved him for it. He met those who held opposing views with a huge smile and the offer of a cup of coffee. 

Ray was never disagreeable even when he disagreed with someone. He would debate with  passion but he was always compassionate. Ray could be on the opposite side of a given issue but he was always kind. When Ray and I differed, we never let that get in the way of our friendship. We never let an opinion get in the way of our love for each other. As we both aged and matured in our faith, we found ourselves closer and closer on most issues, drawn there more by conviction than driven by politics. But that’s another story...

I’m thinking of my friend a lot during these hyper-partisan days and wishing there were more like him. I miss Ray.