Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Poem: Daughter of Eve

Daughter of Eve, Shield maiden of Zion,

The pinnacle of God's creation you are.

Stunning in beauty, graceful in form,
Every movement a dance in its own.

To be pursued and sought after,
Not idolized and lusted over.

Created to heal and nurture,
Not to demean nor dominate.

Your beauty is both within and without,
Otherwise you are but a shell.

Critique and nagging do not do you justice,
For they hurt and hinder, more than lift up and encourage.

Be filled with grace and truth in all that you do,
For that is what men, the sons of Adam, need from you.

Just as they are called to lay down thier lives for you,
In ways more than just physical,
So you are called to be by their side.

Whether as mother, daughter, wife or friend,
You are to be their helper, encourager, counselor to the end.

They need you and you need them,
Even if neither will admit.
For we are all created to need,
We need God, we need each other,
Otherwise, we are but unplanted seed.

Only in relationship will that seed grow,
Left on its own it will just shrivel up and turn to dust.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Anne Rice Update

This morning in church the pastor shared a letter that Anne Rice had posted on Facebook this past week.  She is the author of many popular novels like "Interview with a Vampire" and had returned to her Catholic faith a number of years ago. Now, it seemed she was leaving Christianity. She is still a follower of Christ, but chooses to not be associated with Christianity as an organized religion. Since I wrote a short article on her conversion back in 2006, I thought it would be appropriate for me to share some thoughts on this most recent development.

The crucial element for me is that Anne Rice is leaving the church and not Christ. She still sees herself as a follower of Jesus and I would tend to agree with her. Our faith is not built on any one particular denomination, doctrine or creed. It is built on Christ and on Him alone. At the same time, as a follower of Christ, myself, I find it hard to imagine not living in fellowship with my fellow Christians. While it is true that our faith is built on Christ and on Him alone, we need our fellow Christians to help up grow in Christ. In Matthew 22:34-39, Jesus says the greatest thing we can do as Christians, indeed as human beings, is to love God and love each other as we love ourselves. The pharisees asked Him for a single commandment, and though it may seem like He gave them 3 (love God, love each other, love ourselves), these elements are so interconnected in His mind that He could not separate one from the other. Our love for God is shown in our love for others and we cannot show others what we do not have for ourselves.

So, my point is that we, as followers of Christ, need each other. I have tried living the Christian life myself and failed totally. It is not something I would recommend for anyone. The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. It is meant to be lived in community with God and with His people. That is the only way it can really work. As for Anne Rice, I do believe she is still among the redeemed. I hope and pray that, even though she has left Christianity as a whole, she will find fellow followers of Christ who she can fellowship with and grow with in Christ. Many of her books, I have read and enjoyed, especially those she wrote after her conversion. I look forward to reading many more. Keep writing and following Christ, Anne, you are in my prayers. May God bless you in your journey.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Meaningful Words (06/12/10)

Thinking about my life thus far also makes me thankful for all those who have invested in me over the years.  Many of you know that my parents are helping me finance my further schooling.  At first I felt guilty about being 33 years old and still needing money from my parents.  Then I shared my feelings with my father.  He responded that the money he and my mother are giving me I would have eventually inherited anyway. Yet that would be many years down the road, once they had both passed away.  Instead of waiting till then, they wanted to give it to me now, gradually, so that they would be able to guide me in how I used it.  So, in a way, I am presently receiving my inheritance already.  They continue to support me in many more ways than just financial. For that, I thank you!

            Here are a few poems that speak to me of legacy and inheritance:

We Are One
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
-Galations 3:27-28

We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity would one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We, Your children, have suffered injustice
We, Your children look to you for justice
Yet when we look deeper we find ourselves perplexed
For we see within ourselves the perpetrator of this affront

You created each of us unique
And we have tried to be all the same

You made us black, white, red, yellow
And we have tried to be gray

We have denied the very nature of our being as the image of God
And embraced our sinful dust essence.

You created all of us equal
And we have made inequality the rule.

Forgive us, O Lord
We have sinned against You and against each other.
Enable us to forgive each other.
Unify us by the power of the blood of Your Son

May we be servants of Thy peace,
Sowing unity where there is division,
Sowing reconciliation where there is racism
Sowing love where there is hatred

We repent, Abba.
Have mercy on us.
Transform our hearts.
Make us the people You desire us to be
And may we be one in You.

We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity would one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

All praise to the Father from Whom all things come,
And all praise to the Spirit Who makes us one,
And all praise to Christ Jesus His only Son,
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love

God & I
Lord, You know exactly who I am
Yet You still extend Your gracious hand
Love so great, and mercy so grand
Leads me straight into the Promised Land

O Lord, to Whom all hearts are opened
And all desires known
O Lord, You created everything from nothing
In all the heavens and the earth
There is nothing compared to Your worth

Where can I run from Your Presence?
Why would I even try?
There is nothing I desire, but Your Essence
And I know You hear my cry

You over flow my cup with living water
From this road may I never falter

From the mountains to the valleys
Hear our praises fill the skies
You have saved us from our frailty
May our lives echo for eternity
My Life
My life as of now
Has had some Ups  and Downs.
But believe me
I can see
Him helping me

I do not claim to be a wise man
Just a student of the Word
And I listen to what He tells me.
It’s more than I can grasp.

Ohhh, Lord, Your knowledge is great,
Your wisdom, unlimited.
You teach me Your Word.
And I am so glad.

It’s You that I run to,
When I don’t understand.
You show to Your knowledge
And now I understand.

But yet, I still don’t comprehend,
This knowledge that you show!
Ohh, Lord, it’s only by your grace,
That I can understand.

When I was a little child,
I asked to learn
Of this world
That I now know.
But I also know,
He’s not done with me yet.

            Thank you again for reading through another set of my Musings. I hope you found them inspiring and even more, that you heard God speaking to you as you read through them. May you continue to grow in Christ, just as I am and continue to follow in the way of our Heavenly Father, as we each seek to listen to His Holy Spirit speak into each of our lives.

Sharing My Life (06/12/10): Entitlement Or Inheritance

For a while now I have been observing many members of my generation and those around it taking an “entitlement” mentality towards life.  Some graduate from college and expect a job to be waiting.  Others once on the job, expect a certain benefit package: full health coverage, minimum two-weeks per year vacation, stock options and others.  Still others expect life outside of college or graduate school to be much like it was inside. Once they graduate and enter into today’s workforce, they find that such things are earned, not simply given.

            I say this not just as an observer, but also as a participant. When I graduated from college and then seminary, I expected getting a job would come easy.  It was not. To be honest, I finished not even sure what I wanted to do with my life.  Much has changed since then.  Those who have been reading this newsletter for a while can probably testify to the many job and career changes I have made over the years.  I do not even claim to be finished changing courses yet, though I do think I am more certain of my future in therapy than I was in my careers in ministry or chaplaincy.

            So, now looking back at how “na├»ve” I was when I graduated and at what I have learned over the years, my outlook now is not one of entitlement, but one of inheritance. I am not interested in what I am entitled to or what everyone “should do” for me. Instead, I am increasingly more interested in what I am leaving behind for the generation coming behind me.  A mentor of mine, Greg Bourgond, would call this my legacy. As I continue to work towards completing my Doctorate in Marriage & Family Therapy and becoming a therapist myself, I find myself approaching what I am learning not just for my benefit, but also for the benefit of those who will come after me.  How can I help them become better people?  It is not just about who I am becoming, but also about who those who are watching me are becoming, as a result of how I live my life?

Life Update (06/12/10): Moving Again

            As of Memorial Day weekend, I have moved from Maple Grove, MN to Minneapolis, MN.  Both my phone number and email address remain the same.  In other news, I have now begun my second semester at Argosy University.  This past Thursday I spent most of the day at a Conference for the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology (NASAP), where I got to hear from James Bitter, a leading psychologist in the field.  One of the most compelling ideas I came away with was that therapy is not about fixing marital issues or changing individual behavior. It is about helping the client to understand where others are coming from and enabling them to work out their own issues. Behavior may certainly change and marital issues may indeed lesson, but that is because of the work the client(s) put into therapy, not the individual therapist. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Meaningful Words (04/25/10)

            Simple faith and loving friendship are what I have written about thus far in this newsletter. There are a few poems of mine that speak to those themes and here they are:

Christ in you, Christ in me
This is what it means to be a true community
Christ in you, Christ in me
This is what God desires, His earthly Trinity

Your heart beating next to mine,
My heart beating next to yours
And at the center, there is God
In our midst

Christ in you, Christ in me
This is what it means to be a true community
Christ in you, Christ in me
This is what God desires, His earthly Trinity

For there are loads we cannot carry alone
Never were meant to be on our own
But side by side,
Let me carry you,
And when I’m tired
You’ll carry me too.
And we can’t carry on
That’s when we’ll look to God
And find He’s been with us all along

Christ in you, Christ in me
This is what it means to be a true community
Christ in you, Christ in me
This is what God desires, His earthly Trinity

This road of life is long and narrow
With much toil and real sorrow
Yet hold to me,
As I hold to you,
And we will grow in His embrace

LoungeDivine (Unfinished)
Friends to be real with
Children to enjoy
A place to watch movies
And to think of spiritual things
A place to explore God and His People
Free from expectation or
Fear of reproach
A place of understanding
A place of growth
A place where the bones of my doubt
Can be enfleshed with renewed faith
A place of love
A place of acceptance
A place to be honest about my life with God
And know I will be encouraged in His Strength

The Truth
You know the truth,
It’s been in you,
Since time began.

You just did not see,
What really could be.

Look inside you,
Deep inside,
Look to your heart.
Then He will guide you.
To the truth.
What is life?
Is it love?
or something different.
Must we look,
All our lives,
Just for true life?

Or is it simple?
Standing right before us,
With it’s arms outstretched.
Can it really be that simple?
Yes, it is!!

            Once more I come to the end of this newsletter feeling I have shared a lot and thankful for you who have read this far and continue to follow God with me on this journey we walk together. Even though we are miles apart, when we pray to God and share with Him our hearts, He draws us closer to each other as He draws us close to Him. Take time to enjoy fellowship with those you love this week. It is within that love that we get a glimpse of God, and this side of His Kingdom, that is the best picture we have!            

Sharing My Life (04/25/10): Starting Small

            Last Friday I watched The Blindside with Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw.  It is a really good movie to watch as a family and tells the true story of a suburban mother forming a mutually beneficial friendship with an inner-city youth, which culminates in him becoming a pro-football player. There were many powerful and touching aspects of the movie and the one that really spoke to me was how the relationship between mother and the inner city young man grew.  

            Leigh Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock, did not start out with the intent to start a movement or ministry; she just saw a need, had the desire to help and followed her heart. Even though she had no idea where it would go or what would come next, she stepped out in faith. Yes, many of the main characters in the film are Christian, though I think its message is pretty universal. It was not her original intention to bring Michael Oher, the young man, into her home, help him become a better student and man, and motivate him to go to college and then to the NFL; that all came into the picture gradually. I think if she had gone into it all with that motivation from the get go, she would not have made the same impact.

            In my experience, our walk with God works much the same way. We have no idea where it is all headed or who we will ultimately become in the end. Perhaps it is better that way. I once asked God to show me the plan He had for my life. In reply, He said, “If I showed you the way, you would simply follow the path. Instead, I have chosen to show Myself to you and ask you to follow Me.” Do not get the wrong idea, that was one of the few times He has ever spoken to me that clearly ;-)

            I do believe God has a plan and is constantly at work in our lives brining it into fulfillment.  We are not meant to know it all beforehand. I am not even sure I could comprehend it all if I did. Instead, God moves in our hearts like He moved in Leigh’s heart.  He shows us a need, gives us a desire in our heart and asks us to step out in faith.

            One way I have seen this work out in my own life is with a family I have grown close to.  I first met them back when I was living in Saint Cloud, working at the VA there and attending 2:42 Church. They had recently left a very legalistic church and had come to 2:42 in search of healing fellowship. As time progressed, I befriended them and was able to help them through their healing, especially as 2:42 broke up. Even when I moved back to the Cities to pursue work as a chaplain, I still kept in contact with them. Recently, the father of the family fell and broke his ankle.  The past few weekends, as studies allowed, I went up to St. Cloud and visited with them. I talked with the parents and played with the children. It was a great time for all. As I was with them and even now I can feel the warmth of family, love and fellowship. That is what relationships in God’s kingdom are all about.

            We do not have to be strategic in all that we do for God or have everything all planned out from the beginning. All He asks from us is the simple faith it takes to see a need, listen to the desires of our heart and follow Him. The rest will become clear in time, as we need to know and can handle it. Even now, God may be speaking to you, showing you a need, tugging at a desire in your heart and simply saying, “Follow Me!”

Life Update (04/25/10): Making Progress

This past Wednesday I finished my first semester at Argosy University. So far, I’m pretty sure I got A’s in all my classes. Summer classes begin on May 10th.  I am hoping to finish all my coursework in 3 years and then work on my Applied Clinical Project for another year or so. There are a couple internships in there as well. I have cut down on my work with Accessible Space, Inc., with the help of my folks, to help me be as efficient as I can be in my studies. So far, so good.             

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Peter Undone

Peter Undone
            This morning I was listening to Dave Christian and Pamela Lundell on KTIS Radio talking about foot washing. It is Maundy Thursday, a day set aside to remember Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples. Some churches hold Foot Washing services every year around this time, where the church leaders wash the feet of their parishioners. They do this to remind them of when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet before the meal in John 13. Dave recounted his experience in both washing the feet of others and having his own washed; Pam then remarked that the thought of having her feet washed by someone made her uncomfortable. It was not the physical act that gave her discomfort, but the message conveyed in the action. To wash someone’s feet is an act of submission towards that person. In Jesus’ day, this was a duty reserved only for the servants of the household. People walked around all day in the sand and dusty roads with their sandals on their feet; no fancy hiking boots or running shoes, just simple leather sandals. That meant their feet got plenty dirty, so when they entered someone’s house as a guest, the master of the house would have his servant wash their feet, to keep from getting his floor and house dirty. Pam was saying that she was uncomfortable being served.
            As she and Dave where talking about this, I heard and was reminded of Peter’s reaction to having his feet washed by Jesus. Sometimes we look down on Peter for his initial unwillingness to have Jesus wash his feet. Yet I think there’s something deeper going on here. When Jesus took the servant’s role and started washing His disciple’s feet, this took Peter by surprise and he felt uncomfortable. Like Pam, he was uneasy with the idea of Jesus submitting to him in this manner. Here was the Man Who had healed Peter’s mother (Matthew 8:14-15), the One who Peter saw calm the storms (Matthew 8:23-27) and walk on the water (Matthew 14:22-36). Peter had seen Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah, and then both disappeared and Jesus was standing there alone, as if to say, in Jesus the Law of Moses and the Prophets, like Elijah, live side by side (Matthew 17:1-13). Maybe Peter was reminded of when Jesus said that He had come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) and that His commands to love God and love each other encompassed all the Laws and the Prophets (Matthew 22:34-39). Peter had seen Jesus do many amazing things and believed that He was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). This was the Man Who was washing His disciple’s feet and now coming to submit to Peter in this fashion.
            It was all too much for Peter. Once more Jesus undid him. This was not the first time this happened, nor would it be the last. All the other times Peter had seen Jesus in action, he was amazed and undone. Jesus left him dumbfounded. Peter could not figure Jesus out. There was no category of understanding that encapsulated Jesus in Peter’s mind, heart and experience. Jesus was like no other person Peter had ever met or befriended.
            Nowhere is this more expressed than when Jesus forgives Peter in John 21.  After hearing and seeing that Jesus was raised from the dead. Peter and a few of the other disciples had gone back out onto the lake to fish.  Perhaps they were still trying to comprehend all that had happened over the weekend and throughout that week. Their Lord and Master had been crucified on Friday (John 19) and had risen from the dead on Saturday (John 20). He had appeared to Mary Magdalene, Thomas and the rest of His disciples. When He had appeared to Thomas, the disciples were gathered in a room with every door locked and Jesus appeared out of nowhere (John 20:24-29). Peter and the other disciples were still trying to get over all their shock. They had gone back to the only thing they knew made sense. When Jesus had found them in the beginning, they were fishermen and it was still what they knew best.
            So, here comes Jesus. Peter and the disciples with him were out on the water, probably a long way off from shore. They hear someone on the shore yell, “Have you caught any fish?” Despite all their efforts throughout the night, Peter and the other disciples had not caught a single fish, not even a small Minnow. Here comes this stranger, maybe they even thought him a bit of a jerk, asking them what probably felt like the stupidest question that could ever be asked. In consternation they reply back, “No.” Perhaps there was even a bit of sarcasm in their voices. “Try casting your nets on the other side,” Jesus said. “Oh, of course,” they probably thought. “That’s our problem. We were fishing on the other side. Still feeling a bit perturbed, they follow His suggestion and cast their nets on the other side of the boat. The results amaze them. They catch so many fish in that one casting that they are unable to haul in the huge load. Perhaps they are reminded of another time when they followed the fishing advice of a stranger and the result was a catch to large for their nets to even contain (Luke 5:1-11). That was back when they first met Jesus. That must have been why Peter ran to shore, leaving the rest of the disciples to gather the fish and bring the boat ashore. Jesus already had some fish cooking on the fire and asked the disciples to bring some of the ones they had caught. Then Jesus broke the fish and some bread He had brought with Him and distributed it among the disciples. Maybe that reminded them of the times Jesus had multiplied the fish and the loaves before (Matthew 15:29-39, John 6:1-15).
            After the small meal, Jesus took Peter aside and had a meaningful conversation with him. Among the things Peter was trying to sort out was his own betrayal of Jesus, especially since earlier that very evening Jesus had foretold that Peter would betray Him and despite Peter’s earnest assertion that such would never happen, Jesus pushed the point even further, saying that before the rooster crowed, and morning broke, Peter would deny three times that he even knows Jesus (Matthew 26:31-35). This had indeed happened and at the very moment it did Peter’s eyes met Jesus’ and he broke down in sorrow, weeping (Luke 22:60-62). When Jesus takes Peter aside, he is probably still trying to figure all this out. Peter’s own grief over his Master’s death was mixed with his sorrow at having betrayed Him. Even though Peter’s Lord is now raised from the dead and has appeared a number of times, Peter’s heart is still clouded with grief and regret. It is precisely into this uncertainty that Jesus speaks.
            He asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, Do you truly love me more than these.” Jesus was calling Peter by the name he had before Jesus had renamed him (John 1:42). This had happened before when Peter had fallen asleep in the garden of Gethsemane, after Jesus had asked him to stay awake (Mark 14:37). Maybe Peter thought Jesus was calling him by his former name to get his attention. Indeed, such was probably was the case.  Peter replied, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love you.” Jesus replies, “Feed My sheep.” Then Jesus asked him once again, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me?” Peter again assured Jesus that he does love Him and Jesus replies, “Take care of My sheep.” Not swayed, Jesus asks Peter a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me.” Peter is disappointed and hurt by this second asking of the same question; his reply is an even stronger assertion and assurance: “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love you.” Jesus replies again, “Feed My sheep.” He then goes on to tell Peter about his future death and asks him once more to “follow Me.”
            I am not sure Peter fully understood what Jesus had just done at that moment. When Jesus is done speaking, Peter turns and upon seeing John, the disciple Jesus love, asks Jesus about him. Though this incident is not spoken of in either Acts nor in any of Peter’s epistles, I am sure that it was foundational in Peter’s life and ministry. Another time Jesus called Peter Simon was when He predicted Peter’s betrayal. He told Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). When Jesus said this to Peter, I believe He was speaking of Peter’s betrayal. Jesus knew that, if left to his own devices, Peter might have followed right after Judas and killed himself when he realized he had betrayed his Lord and Master the very night Jesus needed him to be strong. Jesus knew Peter would betray Him and knew that Peter would be terribly saddened by this. Peter’s inevitable betrayal and sadness was not what Jesus meant He said He was praying that Peter’s faith would not fail. Jesus wanted Peter to live through this, to persevere through his sorrow and grief and live to see the hope that was to come. Upon seeing this hope fulfilled, Jesus knew Peter would be strengthened in his faith and would have enough strength even to turn and strengthen his brothers and sisters in Christ. When Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, and hearing Peter’s replies asked him to feed and take care of His sheep, Jesus was giving Peter a living sign of His forgiveness for Peter’s threefold betrayal and reinstating him as the leader of Jesus’ early church. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meaningful Words (03/28/10)

As I reflect back on my journey with God, how He led me from obedience to faith to obedience, I am filled with gratefulness and awe. I am also aware that today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week and by the week’s end we will have remembered all the events that led up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Here are a few poems reflecting those themes:

Fire and Desire
In the beginning,
I remember fire,
Burning in my heart,
Filled with desire.

But now I stand.
It’s three years past.
My heart is cold.
Where’s my desire?
Where is the fire?

Holy Spirit fill me up,
With the lasting fire!
Fill my spirit once again,
Make my soul fly higher

Higher than the sky!
Higher than the moon!
Shoot me into eternity!

You go to church every Sunday
Don the suit, don the mask, don the act
You sing the songs and listen to the sermon
But deep down you know it’s all a lie

Life continues on, you play the game every day
Load the bullet in the gun, and pray the chamber’s empty
Every time it gets easier,
Every time you loose a bit of yourself
Hiding the truth from all those you love
But there’s One who always knows

You think you’re doing them a favor
But you’re hurting them beyond repair
Acting like a Christian when you don’t even care

You’ve got the M. Div.
You’ve got the preacher’s touch
You even have your own church
Everyone thinks you’re the best
But you’ll never pass the final test.

Why do you continue on this blessing filled path to hell?
Still you play the sheep, when you know you’re a wolf
Do you think you can hide forever?

I pray that one day you’ll see the truth
That all those things you fake can be yours in real life
‘Cause there’s a God out there who knows you for all you are
And He longs for you to come home to Him at last

This Cross
I wear this cross around my neck to remind me
To remind me that I am no longer my own
To remind me that I have been bought with a price
To remind me that 2,000 years ago He died in my place
He took the blame that should have been mine
He took the pain that should have been mine
Every bad thought that goes through my head
Every terrible deed that I take part in
Every sin that I commit
Was summed up in those six hours He spent dying on this cross.

This cross reminds me that I have a Savior
No longer must I go it alone
This cross reminds me that I have a Father
No longer must I be a prodigal son
This cross reminds me that I have a family
No longer am I the only one

This cross reminds me of a Man who cared.
He cared for the homeless
He cared for the lonely
He cared for the brokenhearted
He cared for those without a heart
He cared for those society tears apart
He cared for sinners like you and me
He cared for everyone that we do and do not see.
He cared and He still cares

This cross stands for grace
Of greater worth than any gold
This cross stands for mercy
Enough to cover the greatest of sinners a hundred times over
This cross stands for strength
His made perfect in our weakness
This cross stands for power
An immeasurable amount too awesome to even comprehend
This cross stands for love
Unlike any ever imagined or seen
This cross stands for compassion
To receive back a wayward soul that cost Him His own life.
This cross stands for Jesus, my Savior and my Lord!

            Thank you again to each of you, for continuing to stay with me on this journey. True, some of you are reading this only for the first time, yet you still managed to get this far.  ;-)  Your thoughts and prayers continue to give me strength and I am grateful for each and every one of you. If any of you have concerns, prayer requests or other needs, just let me know. It would be my honor to pray for you, as you pray for me, knowing that even now, Jesus prays for us all (Hebrews 7:25).

Sharing My Life (03/28/10): Work or Relationship?

            Throughout my walk with God, much of my reflection and prayer has been about determining God’s Will for my life. In the beginning, it felt like this was somewhat about a perfectionist need to get it right the first time. There was also a bit of the fear of God in there too. At times when I read the Old Testament, God seemed very concerned about His Will being obeyed and when it was not there were consequences. Back then it felt very much like my faith was a lot about works, about proving to God that I was worth the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. Yet since then, I have some to see such is not really the case.

            Paul actually spent an entire epistle on making the distinction between being saved by the law (aka, works) or by faith (Galatians 3:11 and others). It is not our obedience to God that saves us. It is Christ’s! On the other hand, we are told a number of times, by Paul and others, that works are an integral part of our faith journey (much of James and others). So, is it works or faith or maybe even in some mysterious way, both?

            These days I am beginning to see more and more that the key to following God is not all about living by obedience or faith. It is about a relationship with God made possible by the obedience of His Son. This relationship is built on how we relate to God and living as He leads, yet there is much grace and wiggle room in this narrow way. As we walk with God, His Will becomes clear to us and as we grow in our faith, He empowers us to do all that He desires.

Life Update (03/28/10): Moving Forward

            Now that I am almost three months into my Doctoral program at Argosy, I can definitely say there is a significant learning curve from doing work for my Master’s program to doing work for my Doctoral one; even more so with my college program. There is a lot more reading and other work required, though at times less emphasis on due dates. One of my first classes only lasted a quarter, so I am now down to just two classes, which both end next month. Then I have a nice two-week break before diving into the next semester. I have also cut down on my work hours to give me more time to focus on my studies. I got an “A-“ in that first class, so things are going good at this point. ;-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Are you Jesus

A friend sent me this cool story:
A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in  Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding.
ALL BUT ONE!!! He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.
He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.
He was glad he did.
The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down he r cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.
The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.
When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?" She nodded through her tears.. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."
As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, "Are you Jesus?"
He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?" Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.
If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.
You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked up you and me on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.
After reading it, I felt prompted to pray that my own life led people to see Jesus in what I do and say. What does it prompt in you?