Thursday, November 29, 2007

Do You Know What Day It Is?

One of the key concepts in the movie Chariots of Fire is that of the Sabbath. Eric Liddell, Scotland's finest wing and representative of the U.K. in the 1924 Olympics, had strong convictions about the Sabbath as you will see.

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So the Sabbath wasn't a day for playing football (Sorry Mr. Dungy). It also wasn't a day for running Olympic races, even mere qualifying heats. The day was the Lord's and no one else's. End of story. But what does that mean? What is the Sabbath and how are we to keep it? When one reads the Gospels, one may notice that one of the hottest points of contention between Jesus and the religious leaders was that of the Sabbath. The religous leaders had come up with mile-long list of what one could and could not do on the Sabbath. Healing on the Sabbath was a big "no-no" in their eyes. If I remember rightly, the first time we read of the religous leaders plotting to kill Jesus, it is on the heels of Jesus healing a crippled man. As with most things, it seems there are two extremes to avoide; 1) Making too much of it (like the religous leaders), or 2) Making nothing of it at all (as I sometimes have). So what is it? I understand the Sabbath to be...
  • A day of rest and refreshment. (As the Lord took a day of rest after Creation)

  • A holy day (set apart, unlike other days, reserved for sacred purposes)

Is there any limitations as to what one can do for enjoyment? It is not a day merely to catch up on the chores around the house. The Lord had the Israelites do all their food prep for the Sabbath the day before so they wouldn't have to do it on the Sabbath. But what about Mr. Cubical man who can think of nothing more enjoyable than working on the lawn on a Sunday. What if that fills his tank? If I could describe what I'd hope my typical Sabbath to be, it would involve the following...

  • Worship at church

  • Lunch w/ friends and/or family

  • A nice nap with my bride

  • Reading at least a 1/2 hour with each of my kids

  • A long walk at the state park (nice weather) or a good swim at the community center (bad weather)

  • Sunday Sundaes for supper

  • One of our "family night" devotions with our kids

  • Watching a movie with Michele or playing games with friends

What do you think the Sabbath is for? How do you think the Lord would have you keep it? I'd love your feedback.

Remembering Uncle Vern

My family and I attended the funeral of my Great Uncle Vern this week. He was 81 years old and recently lost the battle to cancer. I thank God for the chance we had to say goodbye to him several weeks back. I'm also thankful that he slipped away quickly and with minimal pain.

Grandpa Donald died when I was four and I have very little recollection of him. But I do remember after the funeral wondering, "Who'll be my grandpa now?" It was later that same day when Uncle Vern took me down to Anson Park to play. I considered him my grandpa ever since.

They sure don't make them like him anymore. He encapsulated so many of the great qualities Brokaw saw in Vern's generation, the Greatest Generation. Patriotic - he served our country in WWII as a combat engineer in the Pacific. Hardworking - he worked over 38 years at Lennox there in Marshalltown, becoming a team leader in the commercial furnace area. I've never met a better card player. No one was more competitive and yet no one was a better sport than Vern.

He was a quiet man in that he rarely said more than a man should, but he was a loud man in that his words carried a lot of weight. Such a booming voice. Nothing made me feel better than having him agree with something I said. When he laughed, I couldn't help but laugh along with him.

He was a servant to his family. His last days on earth were spent doing everything possible to see that his wife, Marilyn would be taken care of. At my last visit, he had to show me the new landscaping. His son, Jeff, had taken out all the green-treat timbers bordering their landscaping ("nearly every one rotten, Danny") and replaced it with concrete blocks. "That's concrete, Danny, as in PERMANENT!" (As in, "Marylin won't have to worry about it.") Few men have ever loved or enjoyed his family more.

After the funeral, we stopped by his house to change for the trip home. I changed down in Vern's room in the basement. His solid oak desk was down there. How many bills had he paid at that desk? How many plans had he conceived there - plans I'm sure he completed. I looked his storage shelves over. Nothing extravegent, but everything one needs to take care of a home. I looked at his work bench. No fancy tools, but everything needed to get the job done, and every one of them used.

Vernie, I will miss you so much. You were one of the kindest, gentlest, strongest, stout-hearted, steadiest, fun-loving men I've ever known. Being around you made me want to be a be a better man. Of all the words I've heard that describes heaven, "reunion" is one that means a great deal to me right now.