Friday, August 31, 2007

down days

Today (Thursday) I guess was kind of a "down day" for me. It was one of those days that while nothing bad happened, indeed some good things actually did happen, yet for myself it was a struggle to do much more than the work I had to do. A big part of that for me is because of lack of sleep due to our crazy (at times) schedule right now.

But was it a bad day? It sure seemed like it in some ways to me, as I was just trying to function. But I've learned through the years that one can't take seriously down days because they will come. Of course it's another story if one is having one bad day after another.

It's not a question of whether or not it was a "down day" for us, since we more than likely mean our experience of the day. But we have to ask ourselves did we in God through Christ seek to do the right thing. If at the end of each day we can say that by grace we did, or made things right when we had to, then we can thank God at the end of the day for that, regardless of whether the day was difficult or not.

Looking back on this day, I can recall good and sweet fellowship in the Lord with others. Grace and peace from God. So although my experience especially in the afternoon was challenging for me (I dozed off slightly twice at left green turn signals!), I can thank God that no matter what I may be experiencing God is bigger than that. And that he can take this day and make it by grace good in his eyes, as I commit it to him from beginning to end, and throughout.

What about you? How do you handle your down days?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

God's new creation work

In Jesus there is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5). This concerns all of God's creation, not only individual souls. And we become a part of this work of God in Jesus.

We need to see the story of God as given to us in scripture in terms of creation, fall, redemption, new creation. These need to be ever linked together in our minds as we pray and work here, seeking to bring in God's new creation in Jesus into the lives of people as well as into all of creation, including human culture and institutions.

This is a tall calling and we need all of us in Jesus to reach towards that goal. We need to do well according to how we're made in God and in Jesus. This means a whole variety of ways in which we love God, and this includes all the things we have to do that we might not want to do or really seem gifted in doing. But the emphasis here is to do well according to the gifting God has given us.

I have a number of simple ways that gift plays out and I enjoy each of them. The goal for me is to let that work of new creation from God more and more do God's work in and through me, better put: let God do that work in me and out from me helping others enter into this reality.

How do you look at God's new creation work in Jesus? What does it mean in your thinking and in your life?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

wake-up call

There are many reminders we'll run into that while we live in a good world as God's world, yet it's a fallen world. It's fallen in that people are naturally prone to choose what amounts to our own way rather than God's will and there are consequences for the choices we make- and for a host of other reasons.

For us in Jesus we're awake, and at times this can be painful, though that's the kind of pain that's good. It warns us of the danger ahead if we proceed, or the pain lets us know we've fallen "into the ditch" of sin. Yes, sin. Pity the person or people who have no pain, "no fear". But just keep on truckin' in ways that are not conducive to them as humans made in God's image and meant to be in relationship to the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as to each other, in the love as spelled out in God's word.

This wake-up call is most definitely for our good. I'm so glad for friends who are present to help me in my own struggles with prayer and good counsel. The wake-up is of course, for our good. Then we can learn to proceed in the good way, in Jesus, what is the good, pleasing and acceptable to God. Of course this is ongoing in this life, so as soon as we think we've arrived, we'll be in for another wake-up call, soon.

Anyone out there have anything to say on "wake-up calls"?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Scripture is alive for life

As we read Scripture, and currently as part of my reading besides my regular reading of the Bible, I'm happily reading the Message rendering of it- we are interacting with that which as the word of God is alive. It's alive in story form, of and about the Story of God. And what is amazing is that as we persevere in this Story, reading it and praying through it, our stories begin to be taken up into this grand Story, so that our lives become one more expression within and as part of this great Story of God in the creation and new creation in Jesus.

I am amazed again, not to overdramatize it, but I really am, over how what we find in Scripture we can begin more and more to see applicable to our lives in ways we could never see before. That becomes so as we seek to engage Scripture in reference to the engaging of our lives. Scripture is good for life here and now for all peoples. It hits us right where we live if we give it the time and space to do that. Of course this takes for granted that we're taking it seriously. For those who don't or when we do not, the bad side of the Story begins to come true as we turn away from God in Christ and his grace for us there.

This is truly exciting and challenging for me as well as encouraging. What thoughts would you share on this?

Monday, August 27, 2007


Continuing as in persevering or enduring and remaining faithful as God's people in Jesus, is part and parcel of our calling. We're to remain true, through thick and thin, through bad times and good times, through everything.

Of course we're not talking about sinless perfection, as if we could all get it down perfect in the here and now. We're definitely people in process, becoming more and more like Jesus- hopefully, and working through issues that reflect that we are still indeed sinners, though also righteous in Christ.

This continuing is not going down the same old path day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Yes, in some important ways it is, as in remaining people of the word and prayer, community and mission, while we follow after faith, hope and love.

But what I refer to here is the continuing that is ever open to God's work in us through Jesus. This will take us to new places to which we may not necessarily want to go and new problems we won't want to face. Continuing in the faith as we find in the Story in Scripture carries with it a willingness to let go of the safe and predictable, as well as letting go of what makes sense to us. But holding on to God and his promises to us, as we continue on together, in Jesus in this world.

What do you see "continuing" is, in this life? How would you describe it, or what would you liken it to?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

prayer for the week

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirt, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

from Book of Common Prayer

Saturday, August 25, 2007

the struggle of faith

Over at Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight posted on the story of Mother Teresa's struggle of faith as well as giving the Time article, worth the read. A good post as always and some helpful comments over there.

I believe faith inherently involves struggle. Yes, there is the rest of faith, and we've read of Christians who seemingly have learned to abide in this rest over years. But to deny that faith involves struggle is to deny the experience of most all of us Christians, and even denies Scripture that talks about the effort required to enter into this rest of faith.

Life and Christian life by nature is dynamic, not static. It moves on through the stories of our lives and encounters all kinds of challenges along the way. This should not surprise us when we look at the Story as found in Scripture. We read there of real life characters who encountered inward as well as outward difficulties. To deny struggle in faith, is to deny the need for ongoing growth and ongoing confession of sin.

Every step of faith that we take that brings us into a new sense of rest will be challenged; mark that. And the challenge may be over a prolonged period of time as well as repeated during that time, and in some sense can be so throughout our lives. To think anything less than this is to set ourselves up for failure- I believe, and for perhaps even our departure from faith.

What would you add to my brief thoughts on this here?

Friday, August 24, 2007

how are WE doing?

This is the question. Not: How am I doing? Nor: How are they doing? Or: How is she or he doing? But in a real sense we should look at life as: How are we doing?

Too often we can be self-absorbed, I speak first-hand, thinking as if we are the center. Or we can be concerned about the person or persons we don't like. But God has something better for us in Christ.

I think we need to learn to see ourselves and our brother and sister in Christ as one in the Lord. And we need to see ourselves and any other human being as one in God. Therefore it's never about me, but it's about us before God, in God's world and with reference to the ongoing work of God in Jesus.

I struggle at times over people and the same was happening today (yesterday, when this post goes out). But then it dawned on me as I was seeking to humble myself and dwell in the grace and love of God in Christ in all of this in all my brokeness and imperfection, that I need to see any problem as an "us" problem. Not as a "they" problem, or a "me" problem I want to escape. Now I want to go from here and see what God does.

What thoughts do you have on this?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

God's will (and bust) or bust

I wonder what Abraham felt like when he was following through to obey God's command to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Scripture doesn't tell us, but we can imagine since Abraham was no less human than all the rest of us.

I believe it's important to obey God, even when we don't understand. Do you ever get a sense, and I'm talking generally about a repeated sense over time, that you should do such and such, or not do such and such, but all kinds of good "scriptural" arguments would suggest to you otherwise, and because the arguments do make sense you abandon what you sensed was God's will. I'm afraid that can be a problem for us.

Some things really are obviously wrong, if you get to the core or root of the issue. On those matters, I think we need to do what the Israelites were called to do: sacrifice to God or put to death that which is devoted to destruction being under God's judgment. This is not easy since more often than not we're talking about idols that we've entertained in our hearts. But no matter how hard it is, we need to do it.

This leads me to this important point: This will be hard- maybe even excruciating, and one often feels like they're lost when doing this. What we need to hang on to, and therefore hang in there for is the consolation of the grace and peace of God in our endeavor to obey him in the matter. Of course this involves change, repentance. And it means a new way of life, a refusal to return to the old way. It's important that we hang on hard to this in the short term, so that it ends up being long term, and therefore really a change for us.

Are we willing to give up that which may be nearest and dearest to us? And are we willing to let go of, yes- put to death all that is sinful, that matter which is sin? To not go there or be a part of that anymore? These are questions we must face before God. And then we must choose to live in a new way, in fellowship with God and with each other, in the way of Jesus.

What thoughts might you add here?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

seasons of life

Right now we're going through an interesting season of life, as we work in different ways to help Tiffany, our daughter get through what's equivalent to a school year to become a Medical Assistant. It's a rather challenging time, as Deb's work is random hours during weekdays, and heavy on weekends. I have to discipline myself to get enough sleep during weekdays, and I must admit, I'm drinking extra caffeine through coffee, lately.

Season of life come and go. I want to do well before God during this season, and we count it a joy to help Tiffany through this time. It would be nice if we could avoid certain inconveniences, though we think nothing of it.

This time will come and go. It's an opportunity to be a blessing wherever we're at, and particularly in Tiffany's life.

When we consider characters in the Bible, not least of which is Jesus, they went through different seasons of life as well. Some longer, some shorter seasons. It's interesting to see what they were up to during those times and how God worked through it all.

Some seasons can be most difficult. It could be a season of struggling with a particular sin or just struggling in general. Other seasons can be rather exhilerating, as when in fellowship and ministry to and with others. Along with the challenges that certainly come with that.

Let's be aware and look at life as opportunities in these "seasons" to learn to love God more by seeking to follow Christ more closely. And learning to love others more in the way of Christ, as well. Hopefully these will be seasons of growth to God's glory so that we more and more see God's kingdom in Jesus at work in and through our lives.

What might you add to this about "seasons of life"?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

spiritual war

We're in a spiritual war, or in spiritual warfare. I'm not sure this much crosses my mind many days, or not much more than that. But there are some days I hit up against, like today, in which I'm reminded of the spiritual battle and war we're in, and the hatred of the enemy, Satan and his hosts. And I must add this hits me, at times through other people, even from other Christians. And the more we can engage in this fight together with others, or with another, helping each other, I think the better. Though even as our Lord did, we may often have to go it alone.

I want to be neither overwhelmed by these entities or pretend they don't exist. We need to be aware, and at the same time, we need to know and take up the help that we have in Jesus and by the Spirit. We need to stay our course, stand firm, not back down, and seek to grow from it. And from this warfare, know more of the Spirit in our lives, for mission and service to others.

As Spurgeon said, the best sign of the Lord's presence is the lion's (Satan's) roar. Let's not lose heart during such times, but be strengthened, stand, and take up the help we have, knowing that Christ is our strength and we have all we need in him, for this. And let us be sensitive to other brothers and sisters who may now be going through their own seasons of intensified spiritual warfare, as we continue on in this life.

Anyone here going through a hard time of this now? Or any who would like to share about this?

Monday, August 20, 2007

holiness is a communal/community project

The more I read, think and live, the more I believe that holiness is a community project. In Hebrews we read as much in different ways throughout the book, and the same goes true in the story we find throughout the Bible. Holiness as in becoming more what God intended us to become, in God's initial creation of us, is not abandoned by God at the fall of humankind. We catch glimpses of God's intention concerning this immediately afterwards, and then we see it come to a new beginning when God calls Abraham. This begins a new endeavor through what's to become a new community to be a light for the world, to be holy as God is holy.

Of course we need to read the whole story. Israel fails in its God-appointed task, though God always has a remnant of his people among them who remain faithful. Elijah is not left alone; even in those days of apostasy there remained seven thousand who did not bow their knees to the pagan god, Baal. And fastforward to Jesus. A remnant comes out of that as well, but from that begins a renewed light and life for the world, as at Pentecost God pours out his Spirit so that God's love, light and life may come to all people.

Holiness ends up where it begins, it is always a community project, never about simply we ourselves in our own world, but always about others as we inhabit and relate to each other in the one world we live in within the new communion and community in Jesus.

And this holiness ends up also being a community project, as we in Jesus being light in the Lord and holding fast to the word of life, shine the light of Christ doing good works and sharing the good news of Jesus to others.

Holiness at its heart must be worked out in communion with God, in community with the people of God, and out from that in mission as those who would bring others into the unique community in Jesus, through entering into and living in their community, again like Jesus.

I believe this is how we can become more holy as more and more we live out this new life together, in our Lord.

How do you see holiness as a community project and more than just one's own individual project?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

prayer for the week

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of this redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(from BCP)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday in the park

Though some were not able to make it, one is with the Lord, our homegroup had a fun time today, cool as it was with some rain drops falling on our head- but it was a fun and good time of being together and just enjoying some good brats and burgers.

tired lately

Negotiating life can be challenging at times. We have a new routine which while necessary for now, is taxing and I need to learn to get more sleep around it.

This reminds me of what I was reminded of by Lauren Winner, in her book, Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity. We are humans and part of that humanity is our bodies. Because of them we have to get a certain amount of sleep, eat and drink, take a shower or bath (ha), etc.

There has been at least one version of Christianity that believed that as one grows in grace or in the Spirit, they perhaps can come to the place where they need little or no sleep at all. This sounds to me a kin to a gnostic, unbiblical error, carrying a Platonic disdain for the body which is not a mere shell of our real selves, but a part of our real selves, an indispensable part of our humanity.

In this life we get tired, have to sleep, even as Jesus did in his human life before his death and resurrection, and we die. God's answer in Christ is not some disembodied state in the clouds with celestial harps. It is the resurrection when our entire selves come to a new life in our Lord, participating fully then, in his resurrection.

Until then I need to get more sleep.

Friday, August 17, 2007

becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable

One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn as a Christian is to work at becoming comfortable in my discomfort over issues and matters that seem out of control, externally or internally.

This is dependent on a faith relationship with God, putting my trust in God in Christ, and allowing myself to be interdependent on a brother or sister in Christ. It is certainly an inward disposition I can't control. I'm really uncomfortable and seem to have zero traction in my life so as to be of any use to others or to myself at all. This is when I will end up learning more and most importantly growing more spiritually, if only I trust God through it all, and seek to be open to God and his will. This is not only a vertical exercise with God, though fundamentally it must start there or has to be worked out there, but it is also a horizontal exercise with others. God means us to live out his will in the midst of others, not so much by our isolated selves, though there are times for being alone.

Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable is part of our training to be godly in a world at odds with this life that is ours in Christ. We shouldn't expect to simply arrive in this, but though it is a part of God's grace to us, we need to work at it prayerfully. It takes time not only in growing in this, but to begin to experience the comfort from God when experiencing discomfort.

So what to do the next time the dreaded discomfort has discombobulated you? Trust in God, be open to God's work. Withdraw some in prayer but don't entirely withdraw from the community of God. I think you'll find what I did today, the Lord is there, he is good and his will for us in Christ is love, no matter what.

What have you learned about this in your life?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

further take on first responses

The context of Jesus' story of the last post mentioned the kingdom of God, not surprisingly. The unfolding of the message of the kingdom took those who were outside of the kingdom by surprise and they found themselves saying "Yes" to God and his kingdom. While many of the insiders were not ready for this message by virtue of the fact that they thought they already understood what God's kingdom was all about. But they lacked an openness to God and the message of God concerning this kingdom come in Jesus, who was Messiah, but wanted to be known as such only by those with the needed openness to God.

So my last post took that out of context. It is about our response to God's coming to us in Christ. The danger lies perhaps for those who think we're on the inside and have it figured out. While those on the outside may end up being more open to what God is all about in this world, in Jesus and in his kingdom. We say, "Yes," yet end up pursuing something other than God and his kingdom, while others have said, "No," but end up repenting and finding this treasure.

I wonder how God's revelation to us in Jesus of his kingdom affects me and just what my "Yes" to that might mean beyond what I'm living now, or just what my "yes" is really worth.

first responses

Thank God we're not tied down to our first responses when we are disobedient to God and his will. Of course when we do agree to obey then we need to follow through with down to earth obedience.

Jesus told the story of two sons. The first son refused to obey his father, but then turned around and obeyed him. The second son said that he would obey his father, but then failed to do so. Jesus then likened the repentant tax collectors and sinners to the first son, and the unrepentant religious leaders to the second son.

Too often my initial reactions show unbelief and other sin in some form. When life hits me with the unexpected, especially in disappointing ways, what can spill out of me is not pretty at times, an indicator, all too true of what's in my heart. But we can and need to change and act differently so that we obey God, instead. Repentance is not just initial entrance into the kingdom of God, but it continues throughout our lives as those who would continue to follow Christ and be changed more and more into his likeness.

Of course neither do we want to say, "Yes, Lord," but then fail to follow through what our lips say with our entire lives.

What might you like to add to this?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

being present as a special presence for others

Being in Jesus means to be present for others in this world in a unique kind of way. There is no one, as need arises whom I'm not to be a neighbor to. And I am joined not only to God in Christ, but to others who are in Christ.

So in a unique, Spirit-given kind of way, we're a special presence for each other and for all people in this world, in Christ.

Do we really believe that? Do we think that we just don't have the ability or personality to be helpful to another? But this is part of our calling in and through Christ. And we need to be open as to what we will receive from this, as well as what we can give, through and from Jesus.

What holds us back from this? Or any other thought.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

God's work and ours

In thinking and living lately, I've been reminded of the fact that there is a mystery in God's work in our lives. We need to work out what God works in, but to think we can figure all that out is simply not the case. We should be glad to not really get exactly what God is doing. It's important that we just rest assured in God's goodness in our lives, in working in us what is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When I start to think my works or anything else depends on me and on my knowledge, that's when I really end up getting nowhere. But when I begin to trust in God and in his good work in me to really move and change me, that's when I begin to see his hand, inexplicably, in a true sense, in my life.

There have been a number of major issues in my life over the years that I had to come to realize that there was no hope as long as I thought that in a sense it depends on me. Instead I had to come to see that it all depends on God, but then from that, as I begin to experience his good work in me, then inexplicably I begin to move, think and live in a direction that before I could not achieve.

Now I have to keep reminding myself of this, and so keep seeing God's help to the helpless, God's grace to a sinner, and his work making any of my works possible.

Can you relate to this? And how?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bible reading as God's guidance versus a lawbook

In reference to my recent post on freedom, Scot McKnight e-mailed me back the following reply (I take the liberty of sharing this):
The point is actually significant: reading the Bible as God's guidance vs. a lawbook is a big deal. If we listen to the Spirit we will do the sort of thing that is now found in Scripture.
Without getting into David's thinking as we did a bit on that previous post, let's think about Scot's reply to me on e-mail on this.

I think Scot was simply saying that this raises a good and important point, and I agree: that there's a significant difference in reading Scripture as a law book and being bound to it in that way, and in reading Scripture as guidance from God, in a kind of dynamic, interactive, relational, life-orienting manner.

This brings into play whether our Scripture reading has to do with our loving God with all our being and doing, as well as loving our neighbor as ourselves. Is it a practice of love, and a relational one at that? And really first of all God reaching into our lives on our level, in Christ, right where we live, to bring his love by redemption, renewal and reconciliation into this world in and through even us.

If it's just a rule book for me to obey and judge others by, then I'm surely missing the point. The Bible is meant to be from God in a way that engages us in good relationship to God and to others, in the way of Jesus, and calls others in this love, into that same relationship.

Scot is not at all saying that there are no commands to obey; if anyone thinks so they've neither read Scot, or more importantly the New Testament. But in Christ by the Spirit God's word is a word of grace to us, showing us our need, but drawing us to faith and obedience from the heart, to be followers together of God in this world.

Another important dynamic in this is that of the Spirit of God: what part the Spirit plays in our reading of Scripture. God's word is living and powerful because it is a word breathed out from God by the Spirit. We need to take these words in that way, meant to penetrate into our very beings and change our lives as we seek to let this word have its way in our lives, in leading us increasingly into the good will of God in Christ.

These words from the Bible are meant to guide us as God's word, not to come down on us as a law that we seek to apply to ourselves and others. Rather it is bringing our story into the light of God's story so that we can find our identities and stories increasingly shaped by the good story of God in Christ. This is carried on right up to this present time, and will reach the goal of this new creation, of which our lives as part of this old creation, in Jesus, are also a part of now.

What would you say about seeing the Bible as God's guidance versus God's law for us? What difference does this make?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

prayer for the week

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from Book of Common Prayer)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

from bondage to freedom (and back?)

Reading the naked pastor last night I ran across some thought provoking posts on freedom: here are two of them. The one I couldn't find simply stated something to the effect that people can be in bondage to the Bible, but instead need to be led by the Spirit, and in doing so they will end up finding themselves living out the truth in the Bible. I hope I'm not misrepresenting David Hayward's thought here.

This is neither an endorsement nor a censure of this Vineyard pastor's blog, but just thinking through his thinking, a bit. In reading Paul's letter to the Galatians we find that the freedom we have in Christ is a freedom not to indulge the flesh, but to humbly serve one another in love. We are to walk in the Spirit and to thus bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, which at the heart is love, as opposed to the works of the flesh.

I think David has a good point in that we can put people under bondage with human made rules or expectations, when people can grow only in the freedom that God brings to us in Christ. We need to be present for each other -and sometimes we need special help in the form of prayer or words spoken to us- but we must be careful not to take away this freedom.

I wonder if David's thoughts and practice on freedom reflect what we read in Scripture. We may agree or disagree in certain aspects of what he's about, but in the end we do seek to see all in the light of Scripture with the help of the Spirit. It may be that in the cultural context in which David finds himself in, this is a way that helps people to break away from bondages imposed on them by others, even other Christians, and find (be sure to click!) the true freedom which can come only through Christ.

The freedom we find in Scripture is freedom from the slavery of sin and slavery to righteousness and God. Really learning to live as humans in the love in which we are meant to live together, in Jesus.

What might be your take on this?

Friday, August 10, 2007

keep on reading

Bill Crowder in our weekly chapel at RBC Ministries wonderfully reminded us this week of the Apostle Paul's devotion to reading (that being one thought in Bill's working through of Paul's last thoughts in 2 Timothy). We read from a man who knew that his end was near:

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

Paul was still reading, even with the probable bad eyesight he had, right up to the very end, still working on this or that matter. Bill reminded us of Herb Vanderlugt who right up to the end of his life was working hard on theological matters that thirty years before he had believed were settled. I remember visiting him a number of times in the hospital towards the end of his life. He was rereading N.T. Wright's three large volumes and would spend the first five minutes enthusiastically talking to me about his reading.

There are so many good authors we ought to be reading today as well as those who are gone. Some today: N.T. Wright, Mirolslav Volf, LeRon Shults, Kevin Vanhoozer, Philip Yancey and Scot McKnight readily come to mind. But there are a host of other good books and writers. Of bygone days there are so many: Augustine and Bonhoeffer are great for starters. But many, many others like G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, deserve our ongoing reading.

I like to work on books and writers that are challenging for life, and make me keep at it the rest of my days. As I heard or read once about Bonhoeffer on one of his books, it's like someone taking a straw to drink from a fire hydrant. Naturally more than we can take in, but like Scripture, which is unique this way, we work on such writings so that we can more and more grow into them in the days we have left.

So read. Reading is my favorite pastime I suppose, though many other things are much enjoyable as well. But reading is something I always like to keep near, even though I don't succeed in accomplishing nearly as much in it as I would like to.

Of course reading Scripture must come first and I take that for granted as I type this post, but we certainly can't take that for granted in our lives.

What part does reading have in your life?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

verge of a miracle

Travelling a little tonight in the car with my wife, Deb, I put in the Rich Mullins Songs album and in the end kept wanting to play again and again, Verge of a Miracle (from album Pictures in the Sky). Maybe it's due to my lack of sleep. Maybe it's due to falling into the same struggles all over again. Maybe it's being weary of so much in life. I don't know. But the song was like an elixir, pointing me to the hope we have in Christ as well as the thought that God is at work now to bring to pass his good will in, for and through us.

Love always hopes (1 Corinthians 13) or hopes all (good) things. We so easily want to give in to a lesser hope, what the world or our flesh may be telling us- lying to us (not to mention the devil). We try to walk by sight since our faith is failing us, but we know better, and that this is not really where it's at.

This is when, along with Rich we need to remind ourselves that indeed, through God in Christ we're on the verge of a miracle. We must look to our Lord and Savior. He beckons us to come. Will we go out to him on the water by faith? Will we venture out with him, leaving our old life and everything behind? If so, then we'll begin to see miracles, indeed we'll soon find ourselves living in something beyond us: yes, a miracle as followers of Jesus.

Do we believe that? If not, why not? How can we come to believe this?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

lighten up

One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn in my life as a Christian and as a human being is the necessity of "lightening up." I've tended to be too heavy and serious in a wrong kind of way, as if so much depends on me. It reminds me of the lesson Martin Luther had to learn, not at all to put me in the same breath as him, but he had to learn to go to sleep and rest well at night since it was not he, but God who is in charge of the world.

I've learned from some good Christians the art of lightening up and simply having a good old high time, simply enjoying life. And this spirit needs to carry over into all of life, so that I realize that as serious as I want to be in my walk in Christ, it of necessity requires an attitude of faith that while necessarily exercised with concern at times, ends up entrusting the outcome of all things into the good hands of God to bring out his good for us in Jesus.

This is a good attitude to have when we feel like it, and when we don't feel like it. Even when we pray about serious matters indeed, we should do so as the very children of God, knowing we can rest assured in his goodness to us and concern of love in regard to all things in this world.

Do you have trouble lightening up? Or what has helped you to do so?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Being disingenuous carries with it the idea of one acting and speaking as if they are sincere about something when it is obvious, or at least God knows that they have other motives in play. For example we may think we are doing God a service with reference to something we are doing, but may very well deceive ourselves because we really have a strong self-interest at stake. This is plain hypocrisy and we've probably all fallen prey to it from time to time.

It is good to not pretend we're something more than we're not. We have no end for our potential and capacity for self-deception. If anyone thinks this is not the case than perhaps we haven't honestly examined ourselves in the light of God's will revealed in Scripture and in Jesus Christ. It is best to be modest about what we're all about, than to deceive ourselves as well as others into thinking that we're something that we're not.

Does this mean that we just accept impure motives, or even false motives for speaking and acting? No, of course not. But we do need to realize that we're people in Christ who are in development and hopefully growing towards Christ-likeness, but who still do sin. This endeavor towards Christ-likeness must be individually driven, but it also must exist in the context of community- accepting interdependence in that, and with dependence on God. This will involve ongoing repentance as well as the desire to grow and change, getting rid of that which is indeed disingenous and hypocritical.

What might you add here that could help us in this?

Monday, August 06, 2007


Today after watching the Republican presidential candidates debate on This Week With George Stephanopoulos and when watching Tim Russert on Meet the Press interviewing four journalists and writers as to what makes a good president, I am reminded of our enthrallment with politics, and indeed the entire world's interest in the same. And it was somewhat interesting to me as well.

I'm afraid we Christians are quick to side with one faction or another, too often based on what we think are national interests. It is interesting that we will take a strong stand against abortion and vie for only "pro-life" candidates, yet we are strong supporters of American military intervention in the world in the name of our national interests.

I wonder if we as Christians are not meant to rise above such considerations in our thinking and actions. I believe we are. Nationalism in Dietrich Bonhoeffer was laden with problems for Christians who actually are one holy nation scattered throughout the earth (1 Peter). It seems like those on the Christian religious right have boiled down their concerns to three of four issues with the rest relatively unimportant to the national debate. While those on the religious left have done the same with their pet issues. I do think as one who has shared in more or less a part of religious right thinking in the past.

Nationalism is especially tempting to many American Christians since religious freedom was a part of the founding of this nation. And along with Modern Enlightenment thinking, a kind of Christian view undergirded the founding of this nation. But if Jesus's "Sermon on the Mount" is meant for us as Christians today, as salt and light in this world, then nationalism must become secondary in our thinking, I believe.

What must be primary is the kingdom of God come in Jesus, and what comes from that, indeed a new reality into this world which is not a part of this world. Our allegiance in Jesus must be to this new entity and dynamic in the world of which we're a part.

So it's good for us to keep up with the political news and important if we're to be good citizens not only of earth, but of heaven. But let's check our pulse and make sure that our concern and zeal is not unduly given to a nationalism that ends up undermining the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Good Christians will debate on this issue, seeing it from different perspectives and angles. What might strike you here as wrong about my thoughts, or what might you add to them?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

prayer for the week

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

from BCP

Saturday, August 04, 2007

my sister's/brother's keeper

When confronted by God about his brother Abel whom he had killed, Cain, living in his pseudo-reality exclaimed, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

I've heard/read an argument that anwers this, "no". But the weight of Scripture and what God calls us to as his people in an interdependent, interactive relationship of love in communion with God, seems to clearly indicate that we are certainly to be our brother and sister's keeper.

Of course this works both ways. We need to be open to other sisters and brothers helping us as we need it. And we need to be awake and alert to those around us who at least need our prayers as well as our friendship.

Is there an alarm going off in what you see in a brother or sister's life? Don't overreact of course. First pray. And depending on your relationship to that person, proceed in love to be there for them. Be slow to speak and quick to listen. Don't judge their heart, yet don't turn a blind eye to what might be destructive for them and others, in their walk in God.

This is tricky territory and not one that lends itself to answer books so that one knows exactly what to do when "A" is happening. This is where we need that dependence on God as well as that interdependence on each other as we proceed to live by faith in the will of God together, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What might you like to add here?

Friday, August 03, 2007

faith does not understand

In a real sense faith does not understand where it is or where it is going. For people who like to have all the answers and ready made ones for each question, this is not considered right or acceptable. But I would argue that this is the faith we find in the Bible, from Abraham to our Lord himself. Faith means to keep on going with openness to God with reference to all things. As we are open to whatever God might be doing and speaking into our lives, then we can continue on in a faith which while confident because of God, nevertheless continues on completely dependent on him.

Do we know more than we live out? Yes, of course. But our knowledge is often just paper knowledge. It needs to become a part of this life of faith in the God who is at work in us and who will not let us go until his work is finished. That means this is ongoing throughout all of our lives and is a part of what faith is in this dynamic interface of our lives in relationship to the Triune God, now in this world. And of course, we live this out with each other, in relation to each other and to our world as well.

Why do we resist going on a journey in which we really don't know where we're going? How is this true for us like it was for Abraham, and how is this buffered/made clearer by God's revelation to us of Jesus? Or whatever you might like to add here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Miroslav Volf in Exclusion and Embrace speaks of the pseduo-reality that sin in its power and pervasiveness brings on people. At the heart of sin is the displacing of God from the center and placing ourselves as God. From that comes a false sense of justice and goodness. What is wrong in God's eyes is right in our own eyes, and the more we give into this false "reality", the easier it becomes to be deceived and taken in by it. It makes all the sense in the world to us, and God's way as revealed in Scripture and in Christ makes little or no sense at all, certainly none at all if understood as God intends.

This brings a false shalom/peace and prosperity, which may last for a time, but sooner or later reality will catch up with this pseudo-reality. God in love works in kind and in stern ways to bring one back to their senses (like the lost son).

When we know something is wrong or doesn't seem right this can be an indication that God is trying to get us to see that we're living in a fiction rather than in his Story in Christ. I'd rather experience a little of God's reality than all of the pseudo-reality, as good as it may seem for a season.

What would you share here?

Miroslav Volf of course is not responsible for how I may have misused what he was saying, describing it to some extent in my own thoughts and words.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

don't get out

Do you feel stuck in life? Like there's no way out? The pressures remain along with disappointments and on top of that ready made temptations to bail out and leave the status quo behind? Don't get out!

This is the time when we need to hang our heads in prayer and submission to God and accept and even learn to embrace our lot in life.

Easier said than done, surely, but with God's help in Christ we can and must do this. It may mean leaving our own dreams behind, including our own vision of how things ought to be. Instead we wait for God's word and his will, whatever that may be, to be worked out over time in our lives. This is the way we're to go; this is the way in following Jesus in our lives. Don't get out but trust in God to get in and do his good work in and out through our lives.

What about you? Are you tempted to get out? What helps you stay in?